Category: Blog

Lent? Ash Wednesday? What?

lint, ash???

True confession…

(Inserting a preemptive apology to my Catholic friends and followers… I am sorry.)

As a Protestant, (that even holds a Theology degree) I have never honored Ash Wednesday as anything unique, other than the start of the Easter season. But I have observed those who attend an Ash Wednesday service and usually receive a cross made of ashes on their forehead to wear for a day.

I’ve never done so myself.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday when this will be practiced by thousands all over the world, so I’d like to address a couple of things about it. Consider it a short Lent refresher class with value for you (and me) regardless of what we believe.

“Ash Wednesday (46 days before Easter) marks the beginning of Lent which is a 40-day period (not counting Sundays) marked by repentance, fasting, reflection and celebration.” (Christianity.com/Kelly Givens) It is intended to represent the 40 day period that Jesus spent fasting in the desert. It’s purpose is for believers to have a set time each year to focus on Jesus’ life, sacrifice and resurrection. For them to have a set time each year to self-reflect, evaluate, repent as needed and say no to their own desires by fasting (going without) some food or thing.

Without any ashes on my forehead, I see great value in that.

There’s no doubt in my mind that our world in general and my/your personal world would benefit from more reflective and evaluative times like this. Times when we intentionally deny our wants to pursue a new set of eyes, decluttered heart and fresh purpose.

Although the Catholic Church observes specific “rules” for this season, that is not my vision for us/this.

I truly believe that those who are looking for inspiration, change, breakthrough, effectiveness, wisdom, strength, and purpose will find it in this concept and can find it in this 40-day season.

Change doesn’t come by doing the same thing over and over. That’s called a rut. Others have called it a grave. Change comes because someone dared to do something different. Something different has been done and thereby reflected in something new and fresh in your life.

What do you have to loose should you give yourself to a season of personal evaluation & repentance? What’s the down side of refusing to indulge in something you like for a while? Seriously? You will not die without it! That’s sacrifice.

What just might happen in your life should you get intentional about the changes you may be looking for? What might happen should your effort match your desire? Isn’t the change you seek worth it?

I’m sorry, I don’t mean to preach. I am just so passionate about this right now because I am giving myself to this concept beginning March 1- April 9. Those are my 40 days! My lent. And I am excited… albeit a bit nervous, but I’m in. Going for it.

Anyone wanna join me?

Do whatever you feel, go without what you feel impressed to, but don’t stay in a rut. Let’s do some reflection, repentance, and celebrating change! Let’s get off the “rut” freeway.

Now is your time (and mine).

Cheers to you.

A Little OCD?

How do you respond to these?

Be honest.

Do they make your brain hurt, your eyes enlarge or your head shake? What is your response to the one (or ones) who clearly misaligned these pictures? What were THEY thinking?

I love these types of pics and am one who is driven a lil cray-cray by them. I am also the one who when reattaching the wall socket plug plate, screws in the screws so that they wind up facing the same direction.

screws lined up
screws NOT lined up

I also oftentimes rearrange the cups in the top shelf of the dishwasher and sometimes even the silverware too. At my boat, I have taken flack from my son because “I’m obsessive” about winding the dock lines.

And while we’re on the topic of the boat, my philosophy definitely is “a place for everything and everything in it’s place.”

and yes, I am obsessive about it 🙂

Here’s the deal. According to a Healthline article by Julia Haskins, April, 2014

“Obsessive-compulsive thinking is completely normal, with about 94% of the population experiencing some kind of unwanted or intrusive thought…”

In a study across six continents and 13 countries, more than 90% of the participants reported having “unwanted, intrusive thoughts”. (UIT)

The article goes on to say, “unwanted, intrusive thoughts may be a nuisance, but even the strangest thoughts that cross our minds are really quite common”. “It’s how people react to these thoughts that’s of the greatest concern. Most people are able to brush off irritating yet benign thoughts, but for those with obsessive-compulsive disorder…it’s much more difficult.”

So, see, I am normal in that regard. And that would mean so is my husband (who measures inches from the wall to his desk), my son (who is detail obsessed), my friend (who notices when things are moved in her room), and my boss (who teaches me to properly align the jewelry showcases & notices when they are NOT perfect).

What about you? Are you part of the 94% who also have a touch of OCD?

You see, whether someone is in the 94% or the 6% (who don’t), it’s how people react to those thoughts that’s the greatest concern. Are you able to recognize the “obsessive” rolling of the ropes, and rearranging of the cups as a nuisance and brush it off?

Do you see that you do have control over those pesty UIT’s ? (unwanted intrusive thoughts). Do you understand that you CAN control them and make efforts to do so?

THAT’S the difference between it being an nuisance or a disorder.

I tease and am teased all the time about being OCD, and truthfully, 94% of us are to some degree. But it’s no joke to any who have been or should be diagnosed with OCD. That is 2.3% of the population, 2.2 million adults in the US in 2018, 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 kids.

Those diagnosed with OCD (Daniel Radcliffe, Frank Sinatra, Howie Mandel, Charlize Theron, Leo DiCaprio or Howard Stern) have had to learn how to react to those UIT’s. How to best control them. They have found help and a way to best manage them and so can you.

Take whatever step is next for you. Some may seek help. Others will adjust the jewelry cases or make a detailed list. Still others will look at the pictures at the top of this blog and marvel that someone would actually do THAT!

Because we are all a little OCD.

Cheers to you.

You were made to stand out

what stands out here?

I recently saw this on my walk (actually I’ve seen it hundreds of times but this time I stopped, studied it, and shot a pic of it).

Each time I’ve walked by it I’ve been struck with the absolute beauty of the perfectly sculptured tree in the middle (I don’t know what kind it is), how high it is, (probably 50-75 feet high) and how it just doesn’t fit in with the other trees. There’s no way this tree is weekly manicured and tended too, it’s just to high to reach. And yet, it’s stunning beauty, perfect lines and symmetry are impossible to miss. It stands out.

It’s easy to see why it seems like it doesn’t belong or fit on this hillside. There’s not another tree like it anywhere near this spot. It simply is not like the other trees, not even close. It appears to have nothing in common with the other trees, (except being a tree). The external comparisons are off the charts, bonkers! It is alone, significantly different from all the others, and totally outnumbered by the others.

And yet, here it is. Standing tall. Beautiful. Eye catching. And, hopefully proud.

The applications seem apparent, obvious.

You are THAT beautiful, perfectly sculptured, lonely, different, tall, eye catching and hopefully proud tree. Within your DNA is the design to make you stand out from the crowd, stand alone as YOU, and make a beautiful difference on your hillside.

When you feel like you don’t fit or belong or are too different, just look at this picture and remember “You were made to stand out” and bring stunning beauty to your surroundings.

Flourish. Be you. Stand out. Be different. THAT’S what you were made to do.

Cheers to you.

Uninspired?

Feel sluggish, low in spirits/energy, depressed, perhaps unmotivated, unchallenged?

In a state of stagnation? Experiencing a lack of activity or progress? Feeling “stuck”?

All of us, at one time or another have faced these feelings and have had to decide what to do with them. How to maneuver through them, how to learn from them.

Allow me to utilize some sailing similes as we drift through the afore mentioned feelings or “DOLDRUMS’. Have you been in the “doldrums”?

You younger ones perhaps have never heard that idiom used before. To be in the doldrums means – to be inactive, dull, quiet, sluggish, or lethargic. It was used in the 18th century when referring to a sluggish person, or a doldrum.

But alas, even that expression comes from the maritime use of doldrums. You see, sailors hate (and have for a very long time) the doldrums. Why? Because the doldrums are a monotonous, windless section of the ocean, where sailing ships sometimes get stuck on the water for weeks at a time. The doldrums are referred to as “an ocean parking lot around the Equator”. (Joano Turner, Theoceanrace.com)

a ship in the doldrums

The doldrums are a 50-250 mile wide strip of ocean that runs 5 degrees above the Equator to 5 degrees below the Equator. It is the section of the ocean at the Equator where there are no winds. The trade winds from the North meet the trade winds from the South and as they are heated, those winds rise up, leaving no steady surface winds on the ocean. “The doldrums are a band of calms & light baffling winds North & South of the Equator in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.” A sailor could sail for weeks in a flat, calm ocean.

the dreaded doldrums

The doldrums also have a reputation as being the “dead zone”. It can be a life and death issue for sailors, as running out of food and water while stalled out there can lead to delirium, scurvy, starvation and cabin fever. In addition, the intense solar air at the Equator makes this ocean area not only the “dreaded doldrums” but also “the desert of the ocean”.

Stay with me… besides science and sailing, we’re talking about you and me, too. But in a moment…

The sailing pros who deal with the doldrums most effectively are those who race in the 8 month, 45,000 nautical mile, around the world sailing race, called The Volvo Ocean Race. Every three years it is held, usually begins in Spain, consists of 9/10, 20 day legs, reaching 6 continents, until the world has been circumnavigated.

The Volvo Ocean Race
What to do in the doldrums?

What do you do in the doldrums? How do you get out? Get through? Here’s the advice from those pros.

” A major priority – avoid allowing boats to stop completely because overcoming inertia to get moving again requires significant increase of wind strength. A strategy for getting through includes a series of short term tacks…” (The Equator Doldrums Explained 11/15/11, Volvo Ocean Race)

Let’s bring this back to us now.

There are times we get stuck, feel unmotivated, uninspired, sluggish, stagnant & like we’re not making any progress. There are times we are in the doldrums of life. We’re in the “dead zone” or “desert”. It’s dry, hot, monotonous, boring and there is no noticeable forward progress. It can be dangerous, even life threatening too, if we don’t learn how to deal with it. We, like sailors, hate the doldrums, and we can escape them like great sailors.

The major priority – do not come to a complete stop. Do not. No checking out. No hiding. No withdrawing. Stay in the game. Keep up relationships. Keep plodding though. Be honest with yourself and keep moving. Small, strategic tacks (course changes) will get you out of the dreaded doldrums.

We can usually tell when we are approaching the doldrums. THAT’S the time to make a slight course change. Not when we are already stopped and totally depressed. Remember, it takes more strength to overcome the inertia of a stationary object (you/me) than it does to make a course correction.

With skillful sailing and wise choices, we can make it through the doldrums of life. We can avoid being stuck in the dead zone for any major length of time by making those strategic tacks. We can avoid cabin fever, starvation & delirium.

Cool thing too about the doldrums, as slow as they are, you can go from 1 to 100 in seconds, because of the erratic weather patterns.

So, hang on, change is coooooooommmmiiinnngggg!!!! We’re busting loose of those dreaded doldrums.

Cheers to you.

Seasons of love

One of the greatest musical theatre anthems and declarations.

Every day is the right season for love, not just on Valentine’s Day. It has nothing to do with having a special someone in your life, exchanging sappy cards or purchasing flowers or a nice dinner out.

It has to do with you. How you choose to love and be loved. How you love yourself. How you love others. How you recognize love in your surroundings. How you accept love. How you allow love to change you. How your love changes others. You are the object of love.

Here’s the standard for love.

” Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyously celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. Love never stops loving.”

The Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (The Passion Translation)

If that is the standard for love, and I believe it is, then I have a lifetime job of living up to THAT love. I don’t need a boyfriend, husband, wife, girlfriend or lover. I don’t need a best friend, sister, brother, child or acquaintance to work on this love. If I’m being honest, this love, is my homework application everyday of my life.

As I learn to accept this lavish love it will change me. This love will show in my life with patience, gentleness, kindness, humility, respect, honesty, faith and perseverance. This love will be more than just a season of love, it will become the measure of my whole life.

On THIS day, when Hallmark’s business is off the charts and florists are filling orders like crazy, know this – YOU ARE LOVED. You are loved by the very one who wrote the standard of love and then demonstrated the full extent of that lavish, pure and freeing love. You are loved by the very one and only one who can empower you to live by His standard of love.

Renew your pursuit of love and allow Love to overcome you. Not just for a season.

1 John 4:19 – “We love because He first loved us.”

Cheers to you.

Love is all around us

Are you an "Influencer"?

Hey y’all, follow me…

My husband was recently told that because of his 4,500 Twitter followers, he is an influencer. (who knew?)

PewDiePie, is the number 1 most followed YouTuber with 80.6 million. The Brazilian, Whindersson Nunes 77.2 million followers. Kylie Jenner 147 million Instagram followers, earning her a hefty $1.2 million per post. All of these are referred to as influencers.

According to those who study such things, influencers are described in the following categories:

  • mega influencers = more than a million followers
  • macro influencer = 100,00 – 1,000,000 followers
  • micro influencer = 1,000 – 100,000 followers
  • nano influencer = less than 1,000 followers

Although the nano influencer is a relatively new breed, marketing companies find great benefits in working with them. Some of the benefits are: they are authentic, they are approachable, they work hard and they are cost effective. “Sometimes thinking big involves thinking small.” (“Nano Influencers: Everything You Need to Know”, izea.com, 10/2019)

On a related tangent, remember the Six Degrees of Separation idea? Everyone is connected to each other through others they know, by 6 rounds of introductions. There is significant data to support this, even in a world of 7 billion people. In 1990 the play came out which took the 1929 idea to stage. But in 2011, FaceBook did a study that said it is no longer 6 degrees that separate us but merely 4.74 degrees that separate us from one another.

Well, again I ask, are you an influencer?

Most of us would probably say “no”. Then, we’d qualify it in some way, especially in light of the categories listed above. However, consider this.

Data shows that the average person probably touches over 80,000 lives in their lifetime! Here’s how-

  • average lifespan 78.3 years
  • we remember people after age 5
  • 365.24 days per year
  • 3 new people/day
  • (78.3 – 5) x 3 x 365.24 = 80,316.276
  • (blog.adioma.com)

Are you an influencer? ABSOLUTELY, YES!

You have family and loved ones in your tightest circle. Maybe a few good friends. Other friends. Meaningful contacts. Acquaintances. And people you recognize. Within those circles of influence, the average person will have 2,220 people! ALL AFFECTED by YOU. Granted, you’re closer to some more than others, but you are an influence in their lives.

Let that sink in, lest you have thought you weren’t an influencer. You have a unique influence on those around you. You have had influence your whole life up to this point and you will continue to have influence long after you are gone.

Please don’t diminish your influence. Don’t let anything, any one or any voice depreciate your valuable influence on those around you. Expand your influence. Increase your influence. Use your influence. Nano influencers have tremendous influence, value and importance. They are, you are, the building blocks of life’s relationships, the chains in our interconnectedness.

Within your circle of influence you are authentic, approachable. People need that, need you. Your circles are connected to someone else’s circles, and so on goes your influence. We are all connected, and at it’s core is your influence. My influence. We ARE influencers. “Sometimes thinking big, involves thinking small.” One person at a time. 80,000 in our lifetime, connecting the world one degree at a time.

One last time, are you an influencer? (Am I hearing a resounding “YES!”?)

Cheers to you.

IF

  • … one of the latest health and fitness trends
  • … helps to improve health, simplify lifestyle and weight loss
  • … has powerful effects on the body and brain
  • … helps cells initiate the repair process
  • … skyrockets human growth hormone 5 fold
  • … reduces bad cholesterol
  • … may prevent cancer in animals
  • … promotes positive brain health (BDNF hormone increases)
  • … extends life expectancy (in rats) 36-83%
  • … all stats according to HEALTHLINE.com

What is it? What do you think?

We’ll get to it, hang in there, (if your’e still wondering).

I was researching this particular topic last fall because it was interesting and piqued my curiosity. In my view it represented a much larger principle and need in our society. And forget society even, it represented a much larger NEED in MY LIFE .

What? IF. Intermittent fasting.

“Periods of eating and fasting – an eating pattern. Fasting from time to time.”

I won’t spend time here giving you the value of periodioc fasting, although there are vast lists of physical, mental, lifestyle and spiritual benefits. Check them out should you be interested.

To me, diet or health were not the major issues or interest. The greater principle at hand was SELF DENIAL.

We live in a “must have” world. We have unlimited streaming, 1-2 day shopping/delivery, snacks anytime we want, fast mobil connections to pretty much anyplace we choose. We can get it delivered, get picked up at our door step, shop at will, buy in bulk, and upgrade or increase our limits for more.

More, more, more. Indulge, enjoy, repeat. We always want more. And often a voice within tells us we deserve everything we want. But having more doesnt make us happier.

“As people grow accustomed to material goods, they often experience hedonic adaptation and are less inclined to savor daily pleasures.”

Psychology Today, Dr. Allen McConnell Ph.D.

In the same article, Dr. McConnell suggests that intentionally withholding access to pleasurable things would boost savoring daily pleasures. He then designed a scientific study at the University of British Columbia to test

“Could self-denial increase happiness?”

Dr. McConnell

His research included 55 undergraduate students and chocolate. It’s a fun study to read. At the end of his study, his outcome

“The restricted access participants (to chocolate) were happier than members of the other two groups.”

In his Quiodback and Dunn study he demonstrated that self-denial actually makes people happier, in part because they learn to savor more and look forward to it.

When was the last time I denied myself, actually said a big, fat no to something I wanted (and didn’t really need)? Humph…

Well, I began the new year determined to practice that helpful and healthy habit. I would intentionally deny myself what I wanted (and didn’t need). I found myself doing this across the boards in my life. “Self-denial – restraining, curbing one’s desires- to reduce”. Besides curbing physical appetites I wanted to add the spiritual dimension too. So my 2020 lifestyle has included not IF/intermittent fasting in the trendy diet sense, but fasting in the Biblical sense. Denying self to gain bigger, borader, more powerful and important goals. I needed to practice self-denial.

The results? WELL WORTH the sacrifice! The Benefits? Beyond this world. AM I happy? Never been more. (and my Amazon shopping has plummeted!)

IF, it’s not just a health and fitness trend. Denying self (and fasting) is an eternal principle with eternal benefits and with rewards of happiness and daily satisfaction. (and spiritual breakthrough)

When was the last time you said “no” to your wants? When was the last time you denied yourself?

Greater happiness is waiting.

Cheers to you (unless you’re denying yourself tonight ) 🙂

Not schandenfreude

You know, schandenfreude…?

When someone falls out of a chair and you laugh, or thows a ball and it bounches back and hits them. You know, the kind of stuff that makes the TV show “Americas Funniest Videos” so funny and Youtube videos so watched.

Defined, it means = finding joy in others troubles.

I’m not bagging on it today, but I’m not writing about it either. Nope, not schandenfreude.

I so enjoy my walks, and often observe interesting things while on them. Today was one of them and it is the capstone of a series of thoughts that have been brewing inside my crazy head. Today, I saw this –

water bowl & treats for a dog

I walked several steps by it but then turned around, returned and shot the photo, all the while amazed by the thoughtfulness of whoever lived there. And I thought, I don’t know these people, but I do know that they love dogs. On the same street are several signs posted in yards about cleaning up after your dog. But this home/yard/driveway was blessing the doggies. Doing something for them, just because. I was blown away. (And kinda sad I hadn’t brought Gunner, our dog.)

But that reminded me of other things I had observed on walks that were surprising. Things that were left on the trail/walk that someone had taken the time and thoughtfulness to purposely leave for someone else’s joy. Here are a few-

Each time I was totally amazed that someone would do that. Especially build that driftwood path covering. They specifically intended it to cover the path. I’ve seen other driftwood shelters on the beach, but this was strategically placed to cover the path. You HAD to walk under it. (Where shade was)

And the fairy homes???? More than 1 mile of trail (a very steep and mountainous trail too) was beautified with the meticulous and precisely designed homes and with much personal cost from the creative artisans.

All of these, I’m sure brought joy to the builder, but they were left to bring joy to others. The doggie treats too, were left to bring joy to others. All were intentional, sacrifical, and selfless. Each, not knowing who would pass but wanting to impact their day. Not schandenfreude!

Blown away. Amazed. Surprised. And blessed! Huge, goofy smile each and every time.

I want to do that. Unexpectedly surprise and bring joy to others. Be selfless. Do things for others without any need for repayment. Bless others on their daily walk. Not schandenfreude.

Cheers to you.

SEIZE LIFE!

It’s too bad that we seem most impressed with living a full and meaningful life in the face of death or loss. Kobe hit us that way, and I’m sure you could name others, either from your life or the public who also brought this truth to life for you.

I can name several times in my life that I felt that urgency in the face of death & loss. This one time, I even acted on it and got this tattoo, to remind me to live life each day fully.

my tattoo from 2015

I recently read this portion, and it brought home the issue again. I felt impressed to share it with you.

SEIZE LIFE! Eat bread with gusto. Drink wine with a robust heart. Oh yes – God takes pleasure in your pleasure. Dress festively every morning. Don’t skimp on colors and scarves. Relish life with the spouse you love each and every day of your precarious life. Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange for hard work of staying alive. Make the most of each one! Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily! This is your last and only chance at it…

Solomon

That’s quite the message. But isn’t it so true?

Take from Solomon whatever YOU need to challenge you to SEIZE YOUR LIFE. The only thing stopping you is you.

Each day is a gift. Dress colorful. Eat with gusto. Enjoy your glass of wine. Relish your family. Whatever turns up each day, grab it. Do it, with heart.

Seas the day. SEIZE LIFE!

Cheers to you.

Is it time for a tune up?

This week we finally got our piano tuned and it got me thinking about how we use “tune up” and it’s related phrases in our language and life. Here are the ones that quickly came to mind.

  • car tune up
  • we tune in (to a program) or
  • we tune out
  • we try to get in tune with ( with someone or a way of thinking)
  • we change our tune
  • an instrument is in tune or
  • out of tune

Can you think of others?

There were two “lessons” that came to me during our piano tuning process.

piano tuning

Standard – there is always a standard for the tuning. In music the standard is tuning to A-440. For car tune ups, the standard is the manufacturers code, for radio/tv frequencies there are specific “fixed frequencies” in hertz. Even if we are attempting to get in tune with someone or some thing – that person or thing is the standard we are seeking to adapt to.

Accommodation – THIS one surprised me! Our piano man told us that the piano was going to be tuned low, to A-427. (That’s 13 degrees below “standard”) He said, there would be too much tension on the strings and hammers and some would possibly snap if we went too high. “The stress would be too great.” So, it is a perfectly normal practice to tune all 88 keys, in tune with one another, but to 427. The piano would be “in tune”, but to an accommodated standard. (Down the line, he said we would get another tuning to bring it up to 440.)

Application of “my lessons”:

There is and ought to be a standard in our lives for tuning, adjusting, configuring our thoughts, attitudes, ideas, beliefs, etc. It is what we should strive for – The Standard.

However, God has no interest in having us snap and live in constant tension under the stress of reaching for what appears to be an unattainable standard at this time. So He, in His grace, allows accommodations for us. For this time and space in our life, He allows for “baby steps” in our tuning. Smaller degrees of change that will eventually lead to “living up to the standard”. So we can be in tune, and still not up to standard. The standard is our goal, and will always be this side of heaven. But to be in tune now is what is attainable, needed and up to us.

What’s your standard? What accommodations are needed? Is it time for a tune up?

Cheers to you.

Den, trying it out