Tag Archives: Habits

Day 363: 5 Things To Throw Out Before the New Year


This chandelier once lit a beautiful hall.

“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” A.A. Milne

If I could walk back in time, I’m sure I’d catch a dazzling view of this ritzy theatre with shimmering lights, people parading in their Sunday best, and lots of anticipation for a romantic evening.  As it stands, there are two families waiting to see a cheap show.  The chandelier hangs but is partially lit.  The adjacent golden fixtures are putting their green faces forward with the energy-efficient, yet ugly, bulbs.  All good things must come to an end, but this one is fighting to its death.

What could be a more perfect time to get rid of those things that no longer dazzle?  The new year is around the corner, and I love change that I initiate more than change initiated by someone else.   To get myself going, I checked out two e-books from the library and both are telling me to throw things out.  One says to Throw Out Fifty Things while the other tells me I’ll need to demolish the old in order to start with the new.  Both authors have great ideas.  Both are challenging me to rid myself of too many things.

Here are five things that I really must throw out before the new year:

1. Throw out the junk food – I talked about this earlier in the year, but all Halloween candy must now be thrown away.  If we don’t at least start eating healthy in the new year, when will we ever?  Even if we don’t keep it up daily, we must start somewhere.  My friends told me about a lady who has lost so much weight they don’t even recognize her.  I surely don’t want to go that far, but it is now time to address this stomach bulge.  Are you with me?

2. Throw out the idea that I can’t accomplish what I start – In the second book I’m reading, I’m hearing that one of the best ways to complete a task is to understand the motivation behind it.  If we know of  a reason to accomplish the goal and it has a long-term positive impact on life, we are more likely to accomplish it.  I challenge each of us to choose a great goal and write down the reason we want to accomplish it.  Then determine how that will impact a positive future.  Let’s try it.

3. Throw out the broken things – If I haven’t fixed them yet, I’ll need to fix them now or throw them out.  These intentions can hang around and keep me bogged down.  The quicker I rid myself of them, or fix them, the better.

4. Throw out the overwhelmed feeling that holds me back – I sometimes don’t want to start because my mind tells me I’ll never get there.  Well, why not get started?  That’s the worst part for me.  So what if I don’t throw away 50 things?  I can throw away 5 for sure.  That’s 10% that gets me on a roll.  Today, I choose not to feel overwhelmed.  The goal is mine and not for someone else.  If I don’t make it to 50, I’ll still make it to 5.  Goodbye overwhelmed feeling that keeps me from starting what I want to start!

5.Throw out one fear –  I love what God can do in our hearts when we refuse to fear change.  God never changes, yet He is in the changing business.  If we are to be more like Him, we have to trust Him with our futures.  It’s important to throw out anything that is keeping us from moving in the direction He needs us to go.  Throwing away one fear can get me moving in a new direction.

Now comes the decision. We can keep this beautiful chandelier as it is and let it take up space in our lives even though it is not shining beautifully. We can fix it or throw it away.  Yes, it seems too valuable to throw away, but will it free us of space needed for something more practical?  Will it free us to enjoy life in a different way?

Are we ready to throw away 5 things?  What will they be?  Are they physical or mental?  Please share your list.

Day 357: Honesty Can Be An Interesting Policy


Don't expect a lot from the coffee. After all, they share a garden cafe with Starbucks!

“Acting is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” George Burns

There are several signs around town that amuse me.  This one is quite honest.  Basically, if you want coffee, they have it, but it’s not their specialty.

Sometimes I like honesty.  I’ve found it interesting to listen to stories told by different people.  When I was about 30, a friend of mine died, and his wife, a great story-teller, began to give me the details.  Each time she told the story, it was different.  I found myself completely frustrated, because she was still working out how to tell the story in the best light, and I wanted the real facts of how my friend died.

Stories, though believed to be true by the teller, are usually told in one of these ways.

1. An Honest Story – I’m not a great story-teller, probably because I tell them as true to the fact as possible.  Facts are important to me, and I suppose I don’t like hearing a story that leaves me wondering about its truth.  Inspirational true stories, like the story of Helen Keller, tend to motivate me.

2. An Embellished Story – The great story-tellers tend to stretch the truth.  For some, it’s not that they mean to stretch the truth, it’s just that if the story keeps to the heart of the truth, the details don’t matter to them. That’s fine for me, as long as I know it’s embellished–and I usually do.  I’m closely related to a great story-teller, and it works for me when I know how to separate my emotions from the story.  When I listen to these kinds of  stories, I try to think about the purpose.  Often the story-teller wants to play on our emotions in order to help us see our need for change.  If these stories help us to make needed changes, I can agree they are needed “truth” in our lives.

3. An Honestly Detailed Story – Some people cannot tell stories because they give so many details that they have forgotten the story part.  In essence, we never hear the meaningful part of the story because we lost interest when the story-teller and the spouse got into an argument about a detail.  Yet there are times, like when someone dies, that the correctly presented details are very important.  In these cases, the more honestly detailed the story, the more it is appreciated.

So what kind of honesty will it be?  I guess it’s a matter of mood or need.  If we want to hear a heart warming story, we’ll choose a different kind of person than if we’ve been diagnosed with a dreaded disease.  Children instinctively know who to go to for fun and who to go to for truth. Many stories seem to have truth, but the kind of truth we need might change based on our situation.

What kind of honest story do you tell?

Day 353: Resolving 2012 – Making A Good Plan


The plan didn't go as we expected.

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” Pablo Picasso

My husband and I thought we had a great plan.  We went early to the wedding which was several hours away.  We stopped and successfully found supplies that have been missing in Bangkok since the flood.  What could pass the remaining time more perfectly than a relaxing meal on the beach?  The food arrived and was made with some old crab.  Having experience to draw on, we knew that we needed to pay and leave.  Though it was an expensive mistake, at least we didn’t add to it a trip to the hospital with food poisoning.

With 2012 right around the corner, I’m trying to make a new plan.  This year, I had several resolutions, two of which I’ve kept.  This PostaDay 2011 was one of the challenges I kept, and now I’d like something new and exciting to start 2012.

Here are some things I hope to consider when making my plan.

1. Something that stretches me: A plan I consider good is one that I know will be good for me.  This PostaDay challenge was perfect, and I took it on because writing is not my forte.  It forced me to be vulnerable and stretched me in many other ways too.  (I’ll share more about this in my final post this year.)

2. Something that’s doable: A good plan will be one that I know I can do if I set my mind to it.  The PostaDay challenge was measurable, and WordPress gave us good support.  Having other people doing the challenge gave me courage to continue.

3. Something that allows me to create: I find I’m happiest when I’m making something new.  This year, I was able to make a new post every day.  Some days I was very unhappy with my entry, but I was able to be creative in a different way than ever before.

4. Something that helps me learn:  Besides creating, my plan should include learning something new.  I’m thinking of getting back to my computer languages.  My plans aren’t complete, but I know they’ll include learning.

The time is ticking, and I could start the year without a plan. I know, however, that I tend to accomplish what I plan to do.  What kind of plans are you making for the new year?

Day 348: 3 R’s To Stay Charged Up


Staying charged is not as easy when you have to borrow someone's plug.

“Genius is the ability to renew one’s emotions in daily experience.” Paul Cezanne

For awhile now, my MacBook cord has been slowly severing.  I was down to having a few strands of connective wire. I began to need several hours to recharge it, and it hit me that perhaps my three-year protection plan was almost out.  So I took it to The Apple Store.  The word is still out on whether or not it is covered by my $250 plan, which incidentally was due to expire the very day I brought it to be serviced.  (Lucky me.. we hope.)

Now, my computer says I’ve 3% charge time left, which means that I’ll need to attach my daughter’s plug before I finish this sentence.  There– I made it, and now I’m reconnected at 1%.

This made me think about life in general.  I’m in a state of needing to be recharged.  The warranty is coming up soon, and if I don’t get it fixed in time, there will be repercussions.  Christmas can be a great season to recharge if we choose not to  overextend ourselves.

Here are 3 R’s needed to avoid power problems:

1. Rest – In addition to the busy Christmas season, I tried to do an on-line registration at a University in the States.  Something went wrong, and instead of saving $50 for registration, I’m short sleep after getting up to try the conference call which was at mid-night our time.  That’s how life is sometimes.  We know that sleeping helps us stay charged up, but sometimes things happen.

2. Relaxation – We have a couple who comes down and takes us to a foot massage ever so often.  It is not my thing to do, but when we finish, I do feel relaxed.  My perfect day of relaxation would be a day to stay in my pajamas all day, drink coffee, read a good book, and use the computer.  Every now and again, we need time to relax in order to recharge.

3. Renewal – Every year, I like to think through last year’s achievements and determine what I should do in the new year.  The best scenario would include time to think, to pray, to read the Bible, and to plan.  I like to end the year making new goals.  Renewing my MacBook contract would be great though not possible, but renewing ourselves is much more important.

Are you experiencing a power shortage?  If so, please take some time to get your electrical charge flowing again.

Day 343: 5 Ways To Deepen Your Friendships


Friends are there when we need a hand.

“A friend should be one in whose understanding and virtue we can equally confide, and whose opinion we can value at once for its justness and its sincerity.”  Robert Hall

We knew we needed more than a cup of coffee to catch up.  It had been four months since we had seen one another, and we were in desperate need of conversation.  It was an eternal conversation until we decided to get back to life.

That’s what I love about a real friend!  We make efforts to converse, and we tell the truth.  A real friend knows us and helps us through the good and the bad.  We don’t hold back.

None of us need a lot of friends, but a few deep and healthy friendships make life golden.

Here are five ways to deepen a friendship:

1. Share deeply – We can choose to keep our friendships superficial, but I think you’ll find that taking a risk in a friendship is well worth the pay-off.

2. Meet often – In order to develop a friendship, we need to spend time together.  It’s the gift of time that allows us to develop the trust we need in order to share deeply.

3. Sharpen one another – Adding to insult is not the job of a friend.  It’s great to have a friend who will sharpen us and who we can also sharpen.  “Iron sharpens iron” and a strong friendship should be no different.  We must be intentionally developing ourselves if we hope to sharpen someone else.

4. Make time for the friendship – The bottom line is that to have a friend, we’ve got to be one.  Honestly, it takes time and commitment.

5. Give good advice – In a friendship, we can’t be afraid to share the truth.  After all, what’s friendship?  There are ways to share the truth with encouragement.  That is what my friend does for me, and I’m so grateful for it.  Otherwise, how could I trust her advice?

During this season of giving, don’t forget to give the gift of deepening a friendship.  It adds to the fragrance of Christmas.

“Be slow in choosing a friend, slower in changing.” Benjamin Franklin

Why We Do What We Do


Here's the way we cut our pineapple...

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.” Thomas Paine

When my son was born, my mom made him a wonderful sock monkey we called “George.”  Though it’s full of holes, it’s one of the things he kept from his childhood.

While talking to my daughter on Skype, I noticed her roommate had a crocheted blanket in a zig-zag pattern that I’ve seen at many a grandmother’s house.  I knew that someone she loved must have made it for her.

Traditions, whether oral or customary, are passed down from generation to generation.  The more we learn about other cultures, the more we are aware of the traits the people deem important enough to transmit over time.

Here are some interesting ones I’ve found while traveling around the world:

How to seriously multitask  – There seems to be no limit to what an African lady can balance on her head.  I’ve seen  a woman carry what looked like a house on top of her head, a baby on her back, and her knitting in her hand.  These tasks kept her busy as she walked down the road.

How to cut a pineapple – There are many rules about fruits here in Thailand. I just accept them and don’t even attempt to compete.  I stopped a lady in mid-process to take this photo of how a pineapple should be cut.  There are rules for how to peel a pomelo, how to wrap a banana, how to take the seed from a rambutan, and how to properly display a guava.  Don’t even think about fruit decorating.  This is just the basic stuff.

How to tie a shoe  – You may think there’s just one way to do it.  Try asking people from three or four different countries and watch what you get.  You may be surprised to see that some people make Mickey Mouse ears on both sides and then tie them together–or you may find something even more interesting.

How to put a rubber band on a bag – Here’s one I thought was a simple procedure, yet again, it’s the little things that can disturb.  I’ve cut many a rubber band off of a bag because I cannot get to the bottom of how it’s done.  Some of you won’t understand this tradition, but if you do–you are probably with me on this one.

How to say thank you – In Indonesia, the sweet lady who kept the nursery came to tell us that she was sorry that she had not done as good a job as maybe she could have.  Oh, no.  We tried to tell her how wonderful she was and how we appreciated all she had done for us.  We didn’t understand at the time that this was the way to part in that country.  It caught us off guard.  In the States we write thank you notes.  In some countries, we give gifts for all kinds of little and big things.  In many countries we bow appropriately.

We value tradition, though we often rebel against it.  As our world is growing smaller, though, it is important to tread lightly when getting to know people.  Traditions and values walk hand in hand, and if we hope to do the same, we will learn to open our eyes before we open our mouths

What are some of your favorite traditions?

My Top 5 Ways To Avoid Good Health During The Holiday Season


My attempt at a healthy breakfast...

“Health is not valued till sickness comes.” Thomas Fuller

In my case, pride surely comes before a fall.  While teaching, I’ve always prided myself in the fact that I have never called in sick, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been sick.  In fact, on several occasions, the students have asked, “Shouldn’t you be at home, Mrs. Claudia?”

I will openly confess that I’ve been quite sick for about two months now.  There it is.  It’s out there.  Sickness does come to all of us, and it brings many lessons to be learned if we are willing.

Here are 5 mistakes I’ve made that have extended my time of sickness:

1. Don’t stay in bed just because you have a fever.  There’s work to be done and things to be accomplished.  Keep on moving.  Don’t let your body stop you from accomplishing “important” goals.

2. Don’t go to the doctor for meds.  Doctors appointments take time and money.  Just treat your symptoms, and you’ll eventually get better.  This was my bad choice.  In the end, I ended up going to the doctor 3 times because the infection moved to several other organs in the body, which would have been avoided if I had gone to the doctor initially.

3. Don’t keep a regular exercise schedule.  After all, it’s the holiday season.  Who has time to exercise?  This healthy habit may have kept me from getting sick, but as my health deteriorated, I could barely make it walking to the top of the street.  I am envious every time my husband goes out the door to exercise.  I’d love to do it, but because it’s not my regular habit, I’m too sick to join him.

4. Don’t take vitamins.  My husband swears by zinc and takes a handful of vitamins daily.  It seems funny to me, but it’s interesting that he’s the only one who avoided the flu this year.  Maybe there is something to it.

5. Don’t partake of health foods; they are for the birds.  Who needs to eat all of those nuts, oats, and seeds?  Birds will be hungry this winter if I eat all of their food.  Donuts, cheese grits, buttered toast, and coffee probably aren’t the best breakfast foods to help me avoid sickness.  Yet, they all sound better than the oats I had this morning.

I hope your holiday season is full of good health.  As for me, I’m eating humble pie.  I can see that I’m approaching good health again just in time to finish off the holidays. Should I get prideful about my health again, I’m recording my 5 mistakes for posterity.

Do you ever feel smug when you see a sick person, taking pride in your own good health?  Please feel free to amuse me with your stories.

“Faith and prayer are the vitamins of the soul; man cannot live in health without them.” Mahalia Jackson

Weekly Photo Challenge: Waiting


Waiting allows time to consider the plan of action...

“To stay ahead, you must have your next idea waiting in the wings.” Rosabeth Moss Kanter

After ten days of waiting, I found myself slightly frustrated.  An innocent bystander kindly asked when my baby was due, and I remember giving her a special look while answering, “Ten days ago.”  Waiting for an overdue baby is a frustrating event understood by those who have experienced it.  Yet, when our baby arrived happy and healthy, we knew that the wait was certainly worthwhile.

Waiting can be difficult but sometimes strategic.  Many of the best things in life come when we are waiting.

We can be productive while we wait.

1. Look for opportunities.  We had the privilege of knowing a wonderful couple.  Because of health reasons, they were delayed in our city.  They didn’t let it frustrate them.  Instead, they looked for opportunities to help those around them.  Watching this couple taught me so much about looking for ways to bless other people.  Waiting can be a perfect time to serve those in need.  

2. Work toward another goal.  When we know we have some time to kill, it’s best to learn a new craft or skill.  Usually, there are things we’ve been wanting to try but haven’t had the time for it.  A new challenge can encourage us as we wait.

3. Appreciate the present.  So many times in life, I’ve let the present pass me by because I was pining away about something in the future.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to appreciate the short time and moments we have to enjoy our family and our friends.  Life is more fun when we give attention to each person God sends our way.

Most of the time, I find that wait time decreases if I’m enjoying myself.  How do you spend your waiting time?

Is Your Mood Ring Stuck On Black?


The natural colors and designs in nature are free for those who notice!

“The earth laughs in flowers.” e.e. cummings

Back in the 70’s, I was enamored by the faddish mood rings.  Whenever I put one on, though, I found it often turned a shade of gray or black.  At the time, I was horrified because as a sixth-grader, I wanted others to see me as passionate.  Of course now I know the reason.  My hands were almost always icy cold in the wintertime at our school.  I would see people working on the school furnace, but it seemed that none of it was piped down to Mrs. Blalock’s room.  Unfortunately, the mood ring didn’t reflect the idiom, “Cold hands–warm heart.”

Our moods come in many colors, but if we’re seeing too much black, perhaps we haven’t taken time to enjoy nature’s design.  Think to yourself, what did I notice on the way to work today?  If it was the changing colors of nature, the details in a leaf, or the shape of a mountain, chances are that our mood ring would show a vibrant or a dark blue.  In mood ring language, that may mean relaxed or even passionate.

Do we often find ourselves so busy that we run out the door without noticing the weather, the flowers, or anything about the nature around us?  If so, it’s time for a change of pace.

Stop and smell the roses.  That song was written for a reason.  When we are too busy, we fail to notice the miracles all around us, and we forget to count our blessings.

Just dance.  Lady Ga Ga might be a little strange, but she does understand the value of a bit of exercise.  In a gym or wherever you enjoy working it out is just fine, but I like exercising in the park.  With nature all around, I can’t help but give thanks for God’s natural wonders.

Come together.  I love to spend time with a friend over a cup of coffee. It’s even more fun if that person is passionate about life.  There are some people I love being around.  When I leave them, I usually leave with a smile.

The next time we find ourselves stuck on black, let’s get out and enjoy the natural songs of nature and of friends.

What do you do when you’re in a bad mood?

3 Reasons Why We Should Handwrite That Letter Today


A beautiful letter from a lovely lady made my day...

“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.” Phyllis Theroux

We fell in love before going to different countries on two-year job assignments.   Letter writing was a must since there were no emails or cell phones.  We still have those letters in a box.  They’re personal and passionate– a permanent love story.

I guess I could do the same with emails, but I rarely go back and reread them.  A letter, however, will stay in a drawer or a book where I might pull it out and savor the words many years after they were written.

Why should we handwrite a letter today?  Here are a few good reasons:

1. Taking the time to choose a card and to write from the heart shows we care.  While in Malaysia, I was able to spend an hour in an English stationery shop.  Moved to tears by some of the wonderfully written cards, I enjoyed searching for the perfect card and then adding my personal love letter.

2.  We’re more connected to letters we write by hand.  Of course we use our brains to type. Yet, there’s a greater connections between the brain and the hand when we form letters in handwriting. Essentially, we connect better with the words we write.

3.  We’ll be able to use our handwriting artistically.  Except for grocery lists, we rarely take time to write things down.   Here’s a chance to show off the beautiful penmanship we developed in grammar school.  Some are gifted at using their own style to encourage others with generous words and handmade cards.

Today is the day to blast back to the past.  Let’s open a drawer, find that favorite fountain pen, and write a letter with all of the  mush and gush we possibly can!  We’ll pour it all out there, cry for a minute, and seal it with a kiss.  I bet we’ll feel more romantic for having written it!

What is the most romantic letter you’ve ever received?