Epiphany

Have you ever had an “aha!” Moment? One of those times an epiphany hits you? I had one recently. This probably isn’t a new concept for most of you, but I heard it differently this time and it encouraged me to look at my life differently.

Busy doesn’t equal productive. We can be busy all the time and still not accomplish anything. And by being so busy all the time, mostly with unimportant “things,” we lose out on truly important things. Relationships can suffer, our careers can tank, we burn ourselves out and so on and so forth.

It is crucial to prioritize our lives. Focus on the most important tasks at hand, and let the rest go until it becomes the most important. There are many time management concepts floating around out there. Management classes cover a slew of them. Personally, I like Pareto’s 80/20 rule. 80 percent of what you gain in life comes from 20 percent of what you apply your energy to.

By the numbers it means that 80 percent of your outcomes come from 20 percent of your inputs. As Pareto demonstrated with his research this “rule” holds true, in a very rough sense, to an 80/20 ratio, however in many cases the ratio can be a lot higher – 99/1 may be closer to reality. examples where the 80/20 Rule applies. You probably make most of your phone calls to a very small amount of the people you have numbers for. You likely spend a large chunk of your money on few things (perhaps rent, mortgage payments or food). There is a good chance that you spend most of your time with only a few people from the entire pool of people you know.

Your 20 percent is up to you.

Here’s how I have recently begun prioritizing myself daily during the week. Remember, don’t over complicate things.

Mornings:
I wake up in time to relax with a cup of coffee and read my devotional before I have to get ready for the day. This is also often the time my husband and I get alone time to talk.

I work and/or go to school for 8 hours each day Monday-Friday.

I dedicate one hour a day to writing. I may split it up between morning and evening. Weekends sometimes allow a little more writing time.

Afternoon/evenings:
I dedicate one half hour to an hour a day to working out. I try to do this immediately after work or school, depending on the day, so that the rest of my night is free for family time and/or homework.

I cook supper as soon as I get home, or my teenage daughters and husband help, and my kids are assigned kitchen clean up duties daily.

Grocery shopping is limited to one day a week. And I plan meals out for the week on Sunday to keep things running smoothly all week when my family is super busy.

Chores around the house are done as the needs arise. We have a clean house, but I no longer let this rule my life. I do laundry once a week and my three kids help with chores so we can all enjoy the more important things in life.

I spend approximately 7 hours a week in the car traveling. I utilize this time for vocal training and singing and enjoying music.

This is just a basic, rough outline of my week. Of course, it’s good to remain flexible when emergencies arise, but firm on what’s important to you. We will take a look at setting goals later and what you can do daily to reach your life goals.

Words, Words, Words

wordistryinc's Blog

We all know the hard lesson our mothers taught us, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Even Thumper’s momma taught him the value and importance of choosing your words wisely. This was one of my greatest take away’s from Bambi when I was a kid. Of course, it is very difficult to do and requires great determination.

After my divorce, while I was single and spent a lot of time thinking and praying about my life, I knew I had a lot to work on within myself. After the anger subsided and the pain had dulled, I could take a new perspective and saw many of my own flaws. I knew that if I wanted to love again and have a relationship that withstood the tests and trials of this life, I needed to learn how to love better.

I decided to read a book…

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Mama’s Roses

Mama’s Roses
Mama had a keen touch when it came to nourishing flowers and plants. They all flourished beautifully at her hands. I never could copy her knack, and it certainly wasn’t an inherited trait.

So, when I inherited her prize winning pink lady rose bush, I had to pray for God to grow me a green thumb.

One morning, I pulled my gardening tools out of the shed and knelt in the dirt. I was going to have to create a special place for these roses. I had labored for days over the decision. Now, it was play time. I dug in the dirt as a five year old set on making mud pie. My hand shovel sunk into the dirt with a swoosh, and brought the earth to the surface, leaving a growing hole in which to deposit the rose bush. I felt the black dirt squish between my fingers. Leaning back onto my feet, I breathed in the fresh Texas air and allowed it to penetrate deep into my lungs. The breeze tousled my already messy hair. It sent goosebumps down my arms.

As I placed the roots into the dirt and covered them back up, I thought of Mama and the thousands of times I watched her do this very thing. When I was a kid playing in the yard, as a teenager always itching to get away, and as an adult hoping to be like her some day. I hoped I could create a happy, healthy home for my family as Mama had done for us. We might not have had much, but we had love and joy, food on the table every night, and fresh cut roses from Mama’s garden.

I could see her plush white hair floating and dancing in the wind as she took her shears to her prized blooms, carefully selecting the best to place on her table. The smell, oh the sweet smell of those roses. I realized why Mama took so much care, time, and effort in her garden. It was for us, yes. We certainly got to enjoy the fruits of her labor. But, this was actually kind of fun. Playing in the dirt, working with nature, feeling the sun and sky on my skin, this was therapeutic. It actually felt good to help and guide God’s creations.

I looked around my yard. It wasn’t the plush, flowery fantasy land my mama had, but it was a big, well manicured yard. We had managed to create a pretty and enjoyable space for our family to play and relax. I prayed Mama’s roses would take root and grow big and beautiful. I prayed the buds would come in so I could have some blooms for my table. The smell, oh the sweet smell of those roses.

Let the Good Times Roll

Let the Good Times Roll
My husband and I love to have a good time. We love to travel. He has been all over the world with work…seen London, Paris, spent a New Year’s in Madrid, backpacked the outback of Australia. I’ve been lucky enough to have checked off a few places from my bucket list…New York, Jamaica, Boston, northern Maine, Philadelphia, Yellowstone, to name a few. I’ve seen Broadway shows, flown first class, spent a day being pampered and sipping champagne at the Ritz Carlton spa, swam with stingrays, the list could go on. Our children have had the fortune to go on cruises, fish in the northern lakes of Minnesota and Canada, attend a weeklong program at Yale University, and many other things. We have hung out at the biker bar in the Poconos (who’d have thunk it?), chilled with the Scots in the Caribbean, and danced with Irish soccer players in downtown Nashville. An exciting life! Bear with me, I am going somewhere with all of this. We have been very blessed, blessed indeed, and extremely lucky. Many of my dreams have come true, including going to college, and my husband is always thinking more about our kids and me than himself. Of course, all good things must come to an end, so they say, and hard times have hit.

With the oil industry in the dumps, work is near impossible to find and my husband is working his butt off to make sure we have food, our home, and lights. It is hard and frustrating when your bills can’t all be paid and you must start selling off things before creditors take back other things. I’ve let my nice new Durango go and downgraded to an older, smaller car to save money. We are in survival mode and praying for relief, but we are optimistic and full of love. As we go through the fire, we are going through it together. Sure, our kids have to make sacrifices along with us, but we are strong and we are all going to come through the incinerator better and more refined than when we went in. We have always been people who would much rather go on adventures and make memories than have a bunch of “things”, so as long as we have each other, our home is full of laughter, mischief, and love.

We may not be traveling the world anymore, but instead of worrying about what we cannot control, we say “let the good times roll.”

For Bible based truth, here’s what Matthew 6:25-34 has to say:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Intent

Let’s take life one day at a time. Live intentionally. Be purposeful and prosperous. In relationships, your spiritual life, in your work and even in your free time. When you approach tasks, or even life in general, with intention, things get done. You take ownership and pride in what you do, and people will notice. Not that you should live for other people, but it is nice to get recognition and appreciation sometimes.

This morning, my daughter was telling me how she kept getting noticed the other day everywhere she went. A friend at school told her she looked fancy today. Friends at the theatre were telling her how pretty she looked and some others complimented her on her out fit and hair. It made her feel good, of course, didn’t fully understand why everyone noticed her that day. I explained to her that people take notice when you put forth a little more effort. She was well put together that day. She wore a blouse instead of a t-shirt, nice jeans and dressy pink shoes instead of tennis shoes or flip flops. She had taken the time to curl her hair and put on lipstick. She rarely wears makeup because she’s beautiful without it. But, the little bit of intentional effort to spruce up that day paid off.

People notice even the slightest difference. This is what I mean. No need for big or elaborate differences, but little purposeful actions can make a difference in our lives. The difference between plain and marvelous, the difference between safe and sorry, the difference between happily ever after and frustratingly dissatisfied. The difference between acceptance and rejection letters. You get the picture. Now, go live with intention!