My 3 words and the goals that go with them

This year I was introduced to the concept of identifying 3 words to be the focus and guide for personal goals and development, rather than going through the exercise of creating resolutions that might fall to the wayside before the end of January. I wrote about how I came to my 3 words here.

For 2011, my words are: Prudence, Mercy, Humility

Prudence = the characteristic of exercising sound judgment in practical affairs; act justly.

Mercy = a disposition to be kind and forgiving; compassionate treatment of others; a blessing

Humility = the quality of being modest, reverential, never rude or self-abasing; temperance (restraint against inordinate desires or appetites).

As January nears its end I’m pleasantly surprised to realize these 3 words continue to resonate for me. But the real trick is to define SMART goals that support these words. SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. I’m sharing my goals here as an example and as a way to hold myself accountable.

  1. Exercise 4 hours per week
  2. Write a minimum of 4 blog posts per week (one each: Here, Here, Here &  Here)
  3. Read one leadership book per month, write a one-page summary for reference and share the content/learnings with my staff
  4. Save $5/week from my lunch allowance to give away in unexpected places in December
  5. Read/review one novel per month
I’m not off to a great start but I’m making progress and I’m not giving up.
Have you set goals or made resolutions for 2011? If so, how are you doing so far?
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Making a list and checking it twice


I wonder whether I’m avoiding work by making a list or avoiding a list by doing things. I have a lot left to do before I leave for China tomorrow. One of the things I need to do is to make a list for my husband…so he doesn’t forget the things he needs to do while I’m gone. Like mulch the flower beds. And feed the fish. The flower beds will survive but it won’t be good for the fish if he neglects them for 2 weeks. The man will clearly benefit from a list, don’t you think?

Meanwhile my to do list for today is only a few entries long. “Pack for China” was one of the big items. Below that was “refill shampoo, conditioner and face wash bottles”. I’m reminded of a great tip I learned from a friend, but forgot to follow today: Break down the projects into each task to avoid getting lost in the details.
“Pack for China” is too big of a task. I’m still working on that task. I should have made a complete list of everything that needs to go in the suitcase. Then I would know what was lacking as of this moment. Instead, I can tell you that my bedroom looks like the suitcase exploded – clothes and toiletries are strewn across the bed and floor.
I never finished making the list because I started tackling the project. I know better, yet I fell into this common trap. As I began to build the list I began to get anxious about how much I needed to do. Jumping into action helped relieve the anxiety – but that relief was superficial.
Sitting down and writing this post has reminded me that it’s better to take the time to plan. If I have time to write a post, I surely have time to finish writing the list of things to pack!
So, I’m going to revise my list to reflect everything that needs to go into the suitcase. Below that I’ll highlight things I need to do in order to pack (like restock the travel kit). Below that I’ll list the loose ends that need to be tied up before I leave my day-to-day world for 2 weeks (like some e-mails that need to be sent). Finally, I’ll start a list of things I need to purchase before I go (Pringles – a must, Pepto, …) And then I’ll get busy packing.
Are you a list-maker? No? What works for you?

A day to be truly thankful

Today, as people all across America pause in their busy lives to give thanks, I have blessings beyond measure and my thanks are lifted up as I praise God for all He’s done in my life this year.

I just took a quick peek at my post from last Thanksgiving. Last November I banged out a post every day as part of NaBloPoMo. On Thanksgiving day, my oldest daughter was barely communicating with us. Our 2nd oldest daughter was living in Pennsylvania with her husband and our grandson. Our 3rd oldest spent Thanksgiving in Del Rio with her girlfriend and her girlfriend’s family. Our youngest, my husband and I enjoyed a healthy, quiet meal at home. I spent some time reading. We worked on a puzzle. We were visited by a flock of cardinals.
This November I’ve banged away on the keyboard as part of NaNoWriMo. Today, I crossed the finish line – not the 50k word goal (I passed that last Friday) but the actual goal of finishing the novel. Yes, I did it. It took almost 69,000 words, but I can now proudly claim to have written a novel. What a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving! Giving thanks for the flow of words and the story I was able to tell.
But, better than that! (What, pray tell, could be better than that?) Last night at about 11pm our oldest daughter and her beau arrived. Today at 11am our 2nd oldest, her husband, his mother (the MIL) and our grandson arrived. They live across town so it wasn’t the journey that made their arrival remarkable. It was the drama leading up to today. She called Monday to say they weren’t coming (insert MIL drama here), then yesterday decided they were going to be here after all. At about 2:30pm our youngest daughter arrived with her girlfriend. We sat down to eat soon after 3pm. All eleven of us.
After a fantastic dinner, prepared by my wonderful husband, we settled down to watch “Up”. A very enjoyable movie (other than the occasional tear-jerk scenes that caused me to cry, which caused my husband to announce that I was crying much to the delight of all. Glad to be of service).
It’s been a good year for many reasons, but mostly because my faith has grown (continually seeking God’s guidance), my knowledge has grown (almost finished reading The Bible in a Year, huge awakening comes with the awareness and insight), my ambition has grown (well, “shifted” may be a better word – I’m no longer interested in the corporate ladder), my relationship with my children had improved dramatically (even in the absence of drama). I’m as healthy as I’ve ever been – physically, mentally and spiritually (given my history, that’s no small feat). I’m employed, yet able to pursue my passion (ahem, that would be “writing” in case you missed that subtlety).
I’m so happy I could dance. Or sing. Or fall on my knees, lift my arms and turn my face to sky and say “Thank you, God. You are awesome.” Or all of the above.
What are you thankful for?

Guest post – How to Stay Young!

This was forwarded to me. Given my intense focus on writing a novel as part of NaNoWriMo I’m going to “borrow” this as a way of blowing the dust off of this blog.












1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them…that’s why you pay ‘them.’


2.
Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. ‘An idle mind is the devil’s workshop’…and the devil’s name is Alzheimer’s.

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, conifers, hostas, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don’t take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

AND ……ALWAYS REMEMBER
:
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away.


And if you don’t send this to at least 8 people
– who cares?
But do share this with someone… We all need to live life to its fullest each day!


Worry about nothing, pray about everything!


Amen.

Because I have nothing better to do…I’m ready to go!

I have been pining for a while. Pining and whining. I’m ready for a change. I’ve been ready for a change. On two separate occasions (once in 2005, once in 2008) I’ve started novels. Like miscarriages, conceived but never fully developed.

Now, I’m 3 days away from the wildest writing ride of my life. Wilder than last year’s NaBloPoMo. Wilder than the last few weeks spent warming up on my non-fiction work. I’m pregnant, expectant, ready to deliver. I think my water’s broken. I’m at the cusp of full-blown labor pains. NaNoWriMo.
I’m in awe. Afraid yet alive with excitement. Nervous energy wells as I edge closer to the precipice. When I wake up Sunday morning I will be at the start of something that will change me. It is inevitable. I will not leave this experience the same as when I started – no matter how the birthing process goes. I’m ready to shout it to the world. And, God willing, by the end of November I will.
“I’m a novelist!”
Alleluia!

"Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave…

…when first we practice to deceive.” Sir Walter Scott

Once I read something that Neil posted on his blog and was flabbergasted…then realized he writes the best fiction I’ve ever found on the Internet. Bless him, he’s good!

Not long ago I was floored again – this time by the horribly immature response of Alice Hoffman to a mixed review of her novel. Not a bad review, just a mixed review. She proceeded to attack the reviewer via Twitter: she posted the reviewer’s e-mail and telephone number and she told “her fans” to contact the reviewer directly. This was a published author behaving quite badly, demonstrating for all how a lack of personal restraint can lead to public embarrassment and subsequent apologies. We’ve seen this sort of behavior from Hollywood denizens for years. Although Alice may wish to be remembered for her noble statements or her novels, she left a legacy with her hasty remarks. In the backlash of public reaction she deleted her Twitter account, but the Internet has memory and Google cache retained the information for some time.

Today I’ve been taken aback again by the drama played out between Nic and the TSA. Although Nic has “darkened” her blog (Update: her blog is up and she’s posted an apology of sorts), her post is still out there. After I watched the TSA video I did a quick Google search and found her post among the many related hits.

I’d love to believe Nic’s story because she tells it with passion and it’s compelling – but the same can be said for Neil’s work of fiction. One big difference – Neil didn’t attack a public entity. Neil didn’t create a campaign. Nic not only posted her rant, but she also posted this item on the “People’s Blog” which includes a link to her post. I found several others who had taken up her cause. Only some had updated with the TSA’s counterclaim. Google is an awesome and scary tool when it comes to research. Nic should know that her full name, home address and phone number turned up in my simple search for her story.

Today Maggie wrote a post expressing her dismay over the situation and some aspects of human behavior. Maggie’s far more eloquent than I – I encourage you to read her thoughts for yourself. If you read this you know I’m way ahead of her, worried on her behalf about the responsibility she’s shouldered in passing on information that may be difficult to verify.
In August, Nic told a story on Violence Unsilenced. Was her story there true? Perhaps Nic struggles with reality, or maybe she’s writing fiction and wants to know that her stories are believable or maybe she just has a flair for the dramatic. Today’s drama casts doubt on her tale, like the boy who cried wolf. Even when liars tell the truth, they are never believed. The liar will lie once, twice, and then perish when he tells the truth.”
I’m a regular reader of the Violence Unsilenced posts. Because I want my comments on the VU site to be prayerful and meaningful, I take the time to visit (whenever they’re available) the blogs of the victims. I want to understand them better, to appreciate their circumstances. That’s how I found myself torn by Kelly’s recent post on the VU site. Her blog took me to her husband’s blog and between the two of them I pieced together a story of two people who are in a bad place, both culpable. It’s hard for me to identify one person as abuser and one as victim – they seem to share these roles. After spending half their lives together they know where each other’s buttons are and they push them. I am still praying for them – their story has touched my heart.
But Kelly posted her accusations on a well-regarded blog and thereby afforded credibility to her side of the story. But just as we see with Nic and TSA, there are two sides to every story. It’s damaging to yourself and to others if you build up your self-righteous attitude based on the misguided indignation you’ve inspired with your half-truths.
And then there’s the mixed blessing of social media. Another TSA vs. passenger drama happened in June 2007 and was also “outed” with video footage. In that video the TSA comes off less wholesome, yet the TSA still disclosed the full video. 2+ years ago Twitter wasn’t as widely adopted (and blogs weren’t as broadly embraced) and available for the viral spreading of the woman’s claims.
In the end, each of us must decide whether we’re going to walk around (or browse the Internet) believing everything we’re told and taking up the sword for others with moral outrage based purely on their moral outrage …. or believing nothing because the world is filled with liars …. or having to apply ourselves to the arduous task of discerning the truth and deciding what we’re willing to believe based on what we know.
The world is filled with people who tell lies. That is the truth. Nic may have believed what she posted was true but her memories might have been distorted by the anxiety and frustration experienced during her delay. Or maybe she has “issues.” I don’t know Nic, but she created a cloud of doubt and uncertainty that is probably warranted.
“Only simpletons believe everything they’re told!(Proverbs 14:15)
Update: the TSA has now posted additional video footage from multiple angles.
Meanwhile, the blogging firestorm continues.

October: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Maybe you know this already, but the statistics for domestic violence and sexual assault are grim. Girls and boys are exposed to inappropriate sexual content on a regular basis. I’m worried for our children, especially our daughters. 1 out of every four is likely to be a victim. It pains me to think about the households that are filled with tension, anger, violence and struggles for survival. Every empathetic fiber of my being cries out for the justice and freedom of the oppressed.

To balance that is a firm belief that couples united in faith (i.e. pledging their vows before God) should be committed to do everything in their power to make their marriages work. Having entered into a holy partnership, subject to a divine covenant, how do you know when to hit the “escape” button? “Should I stay or should I go?” must tear at the hearts of the victims.

There’s a web site that provides an outlet for victims. A safe haven, as it were. A place to speak out against the abuse they’ve survived. But something happened there that has left me disturbed.

How does the moderator, a modern saint, protect the site against false accusations? I’m not talking about blatant, malicious attacks against the innocent – that’s the foundation of most of the unsilenced voices. No, I’m talking about someone speaking out against their spouse, telling their side of a very two-sided story. Calling out their partner for “abuse” without confessing to their own role in the sad state of affairs.

Most abuse is one-sided. There’s an abuser and a victim. Sometimes, however, couples develop unhealthy relationships based on power struggles, battles for control, efforts to wound and retaliate against wrongs, both real and imaginary. The roles of abuser and victim are blurred, shared, ill-defined. She dresses provocatively, wearing low cut blouses, showing cleavage, flirting, starved for attention. He’s jealous and angry, resenting the attention she gets from others, even though he doesn’t show her enough attention himself. Anger, distrust and hurt brew in the subtext of every conversation. Words that can never be reclaimed are hurled during the heat of anger. Names are called. Ugly, hateful names. Because in the depth of their pain they each want their beloved to hurt as much as they do.

Worse, they began to seek allies outside of their partnership. Others who will support “their side”. “Friends” who tell them “You should leave your partner! They’re a scoundrel! You deserve better!” Worst yet – when seeking support from someone of the opposite sex. This bolsters the individual ego “Hey! I’m not so bad. This guy/gal likes me. Why can’t my spouse see what they see.” And the partner? This new ally is the enemy and the very relationship is a betrayal, fostering even more hurt and distrust. Don’t kid yourself folks, it’s not innocent. If you must find someone to talk to, seek a counselor. If you have friends that support you, stick with same-sex friends. Don’t feign innocence defending your opposite sex ally. Your partner has every reason to object, even if nothing is happening.

My heart is hurting for a couple that is in the throes of a public separation. I’ve been reading both of their sides and I see from within. I’ve been there. I’ve lived through this. I can testify that this hard time can be survived, but in order to do so the idea of “right/wrong” must be abandoned. There is not going to be one victor and one loser, just as there is not one abuser and one victim. This relationship can be mended when these two people recognize that their love for each other is their best ally. Changes will be slow and there will be back-slides, but the man I was ready to leave (let go) 10 years ago is the same man I can’t imagine life without today, tomorrow, until death do us part. I speak from experience.

I pray for this couple, I pray for my husband and myself, I pray for all couples everywhere. Relationships are hard.

The world is filled with people who are willing to throw their commitments into the fire and move on to the next one – and they’ll encourage you to do the same. Don’t listen. Pray. Seek help from sources who support your effort to work through the changes you both must make. Pray some more. Focus on what YOU must change and hold on to your love. Don’t imagine the grass is greener elsewhere. Things have gotten bleak but you can get past this. These hard times can make you stronger. I’m praying for you.