Monday, January 26, 2015

The Very Inspiring Blog Award Nominees Are...

Thanks to the lovely Susanne Drazic for nominating me for the 'Very Inspiring Blogger' award. I am honoured. Susanne and I first connected a few years ago through the A to Z Blogging Challenge and have been following each others' blogs ever since. If you click on the link to her name, above, it takes you to 'Putting Pen to Paper', but she also blogs about foodie stuff at this link.

The rules for accepting this award are as follows:
1. Thank the person who nominated you, and link to their blog.
2. Display the award logo.
3. Nominate at least 15 other blogs (more or less) and provide a link where they may be found.
4. Then, go to their blog, leave a comment to let them know they have been nominated, and where to find the information they need to accept (rules).
5. Mention three things that inspired you the most during the past few weeks.

Blogs I Am Nominating

1. Positively Single Life  - because it's my daughter's blog and she's an inspiration

2. Intentionally Walking - because Raven writes authentically about living out her faith

3. The Write Soil - because Dawn is an encourager

4. Annmarie Miles - because she's Irish and she totally rocks it

5. The Someday Diaries - because Kimber writes about life with humour and deserves more readers :)

6. My Firstfruits for His Glory - because he's new to the blogging world and his posts are very thoughtful

I'm going to leave it at that, not because I don't follow other worthy recipients, but because some of them were nominated by others already and some of them haven't blogged in quite a long time. There are those, also, who have a policy of refusing all awards.

Three Things That Inspired Me the Most (over the last few weeks)

1. Reading Christine Caine's book, A Life Unleashed: Giving Birth to Your Dreams. Christine is a gifted writer with an incredible story. She has a passion for motivating and encouraging others to live life to the fullest.

2. Listening to my pastor's sermon on de-stressing. Actually, I've been inspired by more sermons recently than just this one, but that topic is most relevant to my word for the year: less.

3. Seeing my cousin take her family (including three kids 6 and under) to Africa on a 3-month missions trip and knowing this will be a life-changing experience for them.

Please feel free to share in the comments who and what inspires you!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Dock of the Bay

A couple of days ago, I talked about some common sense approaches to decluttering the stuff in our lives. Today's post offers straight talk on time management, an important element in accomplishing goals. 

If I want to live life with less stuff, with more of God and less of me, with greater significance, it means I need to use my time more wisely than I'm doing. When I think about the whole issue of wasting time, the old Otis Redding/Steve Cropper song comes to mind. Have a listen:

 Did you catch some of those words? 
I have nothing to live for
Looks like nothing's gonna come my way

Looks like nothing's gonna change
Everythin' still remains the same

Sittin' here restin' my bones
And this loneliness won't leave me alone
Sittin' on the dock of the bay, wastin' time
It's a catchy tune about a life that is essentially meaningless and unfulfilling. "I have nothing to live for"? How sad is that? "Nothing's gonna change" because I'm not going to do anything about it; I don't know what to do. "And this loneliness won't leave me alone"; I have no one to come alongside and help me figure out my potential and how I can reach it. I have no one to encourage me.

Please, let's none of us share these sentiments. As long as we have breath, there is always something to live for, even if it's to give our lives away for others. Like another song says, "people who need people are the happiest..." And things can and will change if we stop sitting around wasting time and start putting some effort into it. When we don't know what to do to make the change happen, we need to seek wisdom, whether this is from a life coach, from others who are further down the path and show the way, from books, DVDs, or whatever. We need also to surround ourselves with encouragers. Don't have any friends? Start hanging out in places where you might find some: take a class, join a group, check out for people who share similar interests, go to church...

Getting back to the whole time management thing, if I want to live life with less stuff, with more of God and less of me, with greater significance, it means I need to eliminate the time wasters in my life. Getting rid of material things takes time; keeping a clean house takes time; reading my Bible, being in prayer and attending a Bible study take time. Writing takes time! I need  to put my time into my priorities and ask myself what is preventing me from accomplishing the activities I say are important.

While the Internet has its uses and its place, for me it can also be a huge time waster. Although Julie Morgenstern says "never check e-mail in the morning," I think you can miss something important for your day if you don't check it. However, I see her point as this is also an gateway into wasting time on the Internet. After I've checked e-mail, I usually go into Facebook, scroll down the news feed, 'like' things, 'share' things, etc. Then I might go to Goodreads. Or when I'm on my Yahoo! home page, I might see a news article worth reading. Before I know it, I've spent far too much time online. My writing is set back, I have no time to clean or tidy up, and now I have to get ready for work, have lunch and walk the dog.

So, ladies and gentlemen, Facebook has to go. I have 249 "friends" on there  and seldom hear from more than a dozen. We can keep in touch by e-mail or phone. My goal for getting rid of the social media site is February 1. Between now and then I'll need to delete my albums, go through messages to see what's worth keeping (cut and paste will come in handy), etc. It's a bit hard to do because I know I'll miss some stuff, but on the other hand, I'll be making room for the fruition of my dreams. And truthfully, the dreams are more important.

What time wasters do you need to give up today?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

It's Common Sense, Duh

Image from Pixabay (Too embarrassing to use one of our own!)
Last week I wrote about making good choices and how seeking wisdom is a big part of that. Another component, though, is simple common sense. defines common sense as "sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like; normal native intelligence." In other words, you already know what the smart choice is; it's just a matter of doing it. If I were to replace common sense with a hyphenated word, it would be "no-brainer". Or in a single word, "duh."

If you want to live with less clutter, which is one of my goals for this year, then duh:
  •  I have to choose carefully what I bring into the house - is it something we really need, is it something we can afford, is there something we can get rid of in its place?
  • I have to start weeding through our stuff, deciding - do we need this? Do we like this? Do we use this? Is this something I still wear? If the answer to any of those three questions is no, then - is it something we can give away? Can this be recycled or reused? Does it belong in the garbage?
  • I have to think about organization - is this item where it belongs or is there a more appropriate place for it? 
  • I have to think about management - is this something I'm prepared to look after (clean, dust, etc.)? Do we have more than one of these, or is there something else we have that does the same job?
  • I have to ask how my accumulations contribute to the goal of simplicity. Do they fit with what I'm trying to accomplish? Do they add or detract from the beauty of my home?
What  are some of the ways you deal with clutter in your home? Any other questions I should be asking as I try to streamline?

In positive news, we started working on one of our basement rooms last week. This used to be my home office, next became the room we kept our freezer and out of season clothing, then became (in essence) a 'junk room'. On Saturday we delivered to a local thrift store: two grocery bags full of binders and books, a huge boot bag full of shoes, galoshes and boots, and a box of skates and books (making sure the blades didn't dig into the book covers). I'm pretty happy that we're off to a start!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: Person of Interest

from the IMDB website
Production Companies: Kilter Films, Bad Robot, Warner Brothers Television
Year of Inception: 2011
Currently in Season 4

My husband and I have just finished watching Seasons 1 and 2 of the television hit series, Person of Interest, starring Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson. I do not pretend to be a professional TV or movie critic, but I do know what I like. And I like this. (Note of thanks to my friend, Lisa, for telling me about it!)

Synopsis from IMDB:  An ex-assassin and a wealthy programmer save lives via a surveillance AI that sends them the identities of civilians involved in impending crimes. However, the details of the crimes--including the civilians' roles--are left a mystery.

My Review

Caviezel does an excellent job portraying the ex-government-assassin. With his soft, calm voice, steely blue eyes, intimidating height, and CIA training, he's a force to be reckoned with. He's a perfect partner for the brains and money behind the operation, who also happens to be mobility impaired. I don't want to give too much away, but let's just say they start off the target of investigation and have to defend themselves against, well, pretty much everyone from good and bad cops to the CIA, FBI, organized crime bosses, and ordinary street thugs. They also have to work against the clock to figure out the story behind the name the machine has given them: are they to save a potential victim or prevent a criminal from carrying out his/her plans?

Ordinarily I'd say there's not much worth seeing on television, but I highly recommend this series for anyone who enjoys a really good mystery with lots of action and intrigue. Can't wait to get my hands on Season 3!

My Rating

5 stars - it doesn't get any better

Friday, January 16, 2015

Less Stress

Image from Pixabay
As I was listening to the pastor share his thoughts on getting stress under control, I had an aha moment. Stress! That's another thing I need 'less' of this year. 2014 was very taxing for a variety of reasons I won't get into here. And while you can't choose everything that comes your way, there are habits you can develop that will help you deal with life's challenges. 

From my sermon notes:
Prioritize - know what needs to be done and in what order it needs to happen
Relax - as Rick Warren advises, divert daily, withdraw weekly and abandon annually
Celebrate - enjoy life
Associate - don't do life by yourself, be in relationship with others
Adore - worship God. If you read Psalm 23, each verse emphasizes a lack of stress
For this week I decided to focus on prioritizing. I used to create a to-do list on Ta-da but when that service went fee-based, cancelled my registration. So now I've found Toodledo and have started using it to stay on track and raise my productivity level. "Toodledo helps you turn good behaviors into permanent habits. Track your progress towards self improvement, stay motivated and achieve your goals. Habits is available here, and on iOS and Android" (from the website).

Image from Pixabay
Sound good? I'll let you know how it goes. I still have to go through some of the tutorials and am just grasping the basics. But I like being able to list things, put them in folders, sort them, and check them off as they're done. It makes me feel more accomplished.

A great quote from the lesson:
You can live according to the priorities you have chosen or according to the pressures put upon you. ~Author unknown (at least unknown to me)
One thing I know is that your real priorities are revealed by where you spend your time. Ouch. Does that hurt you as much as it does me? And what tools do you use to establish and follow through on the things that are most important to you?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

It's All About Choices

Image from Pixabay
I recently read Andy Andrews' The Noticer Returns, a kind of allegorical book, a book with a message. A couple of my favourite passages include:
“If you can understand and believe that you have made choices that took you to a place you don't like, doesn't it make logical sense that you can now make choices that will take you to a place you do like?"

..."So now your game becomes one of seeking wisdom and harnessing the power of that wisdom in order to make better choices.” 
“If your situtation is the fault of anything or anyone else...there is very little hope and absolutely zero power over your own life.
"Responsibility is about hope and control. And...who doesn't want hope for a greater future that their choices control? ...Most folks look for their car keys with more energy than they search for the wisdom that can change their lives.”
These quotes affirm that it is possible to enjoy a better life than the one you have now. The key - if you picked it up - is in the word 'wisdom'. You need to seek and harness wisdom in order to make better choices. You need to be intentional. 

Searching for wisdom is biblical. If you're like me, when you hear the word wisdom, you think of the book of Proverbs. Here are a few select verses from the good book:
Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. (Proverbs 19:20)
A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash. (Proverbs 15:14)

A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands. (Proverbs 14:1)
To acquire wisdom is to love yourself; people who cherish understanding will prosper. (Proverbs 19:8)
I find this last verse so interesting! 'To acquire wisdom is to love yourself' - what a concept! Have you ever thought of it that way? I hadn't.

My title for this post is 'It's All About Choices'. More importantly, it's all about making wise choices, choices that will help you reach your goals. 

What choices do you need to make today to create a better tomorrow? And where will you find the advice and instruction to help? I use the pronoun 'you' in order to be inclusive, but this post is just as much for myself.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Movie Review: Ragamuffin

Color Green Films, Duality Filmworks, 2014
Rated: PG13

IMDB storyline:  Based on the life of Rich Mullins, a musical prodigy who rose to Christian music fame and fortune only to walk away and live on a Navajo reservation. An artistic genius, raised on a tree farm in Indiana by a callous father, Rich wrestled all of his life with the brokenness and crippling insecurity born of his childhood. A lover of Jesus and a rebel in the church, Rich refused to let his struggles with his own darkness tear him away from a God he was determined to love. As he struggled with success in Nashville and depression in Wichita, Rich desired most of all to live a life of honest and reckless faith amidst a culture of religion and conformity. 

Tagline:   "In the end it's not gonna matter if you have a few scars, but it will matter if you didn't live."

My review: I love the heart and music of Rich Mullins. He wrote amazing lyrics and lived an authentic, flawed life, rejecting the facade of perfection that many (most?) Christians try to present to the world. He ruffled a lot of feathers in the Christian community and music companies in Nashville because of his refusal to do and say the expected. 

I don't pretend to be a professional movie critic, but I've read Rich Mullins: an Arrow Pointing to Heaven, and  in my view, the film tells Rich's story well. I thought the acting was well done, though I wasn't completely comfortable with the selection of Michael Koch as Rich. He doesn't resemble him sufficiently to be credible in the role. And I don't know if Rich did this or if it was a quirk Michael brought to the role, but the whole face scratching thing got annoying after a while. Rich's brother, Dave, who played DJ Randy, would have been a better choice since the family resemblance was there, but perhaps it was too emotional for him to consider.

At one point, I found myself asking 'wait a minute, where's Brennan Manning?' Manning - an author, speaker, and contemplative - was a huge spiritual influence on Rich's life. I forget whether I've read his Ragamuffin Gospel, but I certainly read The Signature of Jesus and found Manning's theology to be profound and powerful. All is Grace: a Ragamuffin Memoir is next on my list of his books that I want to read. Anyway, my question was soon answered as Brennan did make his appearance, for which I was thankful as a point of accuracy.

If you are as interested in the life of Rich Mullins as I am, you might also want to check out (as I do) the documentary film, Rich Mullins: a Ragamuffin's Legacy (2014). It has a higher rating on the IMDB website.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of 5

Watch the official trailer: