Have you ever noticed that the voices we hear in our heads NEVER say anything positive? Have you ever awakened in the morning and immediately said to yourself, “You’re awesome!! You can conquer the world!”
Why is that??
How come we have to fill our social media feeds with inspirational quotes? I mean, have you ever seen anyone with a Pinterest board named, “Simmer Down” or “How to be Average.”
I seem to always be second guessing myself. Asking myself things like, why are you chasing after that? Who do you think you are? No one is going to take you seriously. What kind a credentials do you have that will make people want to share with you?
Those are the voices of fear. Fear doesn’t tell the truth. And fear isn’t rational. Fear immediately tells you the “worst case scenario” and skips right over the facts and probabilities.
Let’s tell the truth. It’s never as bad as we make it out to be in our heads. Is it? Why don’t we stop the madness right now and pull the cover off of fear.
I’m not perfect. I don’t have to be. And neither does any one else. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure perfection even exists. I’m just me.
My dreams aren’t too big. They are attainable. Not only do I have the tools and motivation to get there, but I also have the natural talent and calling. If I didn’t want this dream deep down, I wouldn’t be looking for a way to follow it. My dream is perfectly suited for me.
Others may not understand my calling. That’s okay. I don’t understand theirs. But I’m going to support anyone who is in pursuit of their dream. I hope they can do the same.
People want to be heard. But they want to be heard by someone who cares and is honest. I’m just going to be true to myself. I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather be.
What are your dreams? What sort of fears are you facing as you work toward them? Can you prove to yourself that they aren’t true?
Get a candle with a warm scent. Something like apple-cinnamon, pumpkin pie, or sugar cookie. These smells are associated with home cooking. Home cooking makes you feel like you’re cared for. Which equates to cozy.
2. Use lamps vs. overhead lighting.
I use this a lot. Especially when I want quiet. There’s something about low lighting that makes people talk in hushed tones. Think theaters or fancy restaurants. It works when we have company or if I just want to calm the kids down before bedtime.
3. String up white Christmas lights.
I love this. One string of Christmas lights gives plenty of light yet isn’t blinding. The little bulbs remind me of tiny candles. They’re beautiful in an archway or around pillars. And white lights can stay up all year.
4. Declutter surfaces.
Visual clutter translates to mental clutter. You don’t have to clean the whole house. Just clear off the counters and tables. It’ll give you more space to think.
5. Cozy down in your favorite spot.
Got a favorite chair? Or a corner of a sofa that you love to curl up in? Put a plush throw pillow and a cozy throw blanket nearby.
6. Make coffee.
Or tea. Or whatever your favorite warm drink is. The smell of coffee is always calming to me. But having a mug of something warm to sip or just hold is so comforting.
7. Play music or ambient sounds.
Load some Pandora. Whatever style of music is calming to you… play that. Jazz? Soft Rock? Opera? Instrumental? My personal favorite is The Piano Guys. The music is engaging, not sleepy. But there are no words to distract. If you’re not into music, maybe a running fan or a humidifier. A soft, steady sound can help you relax. It also cuts down on aimless chatter.
What are some of your favorite ways to relax and unwind? Does your home promote a calm atmosphere? I’d love to hear your comments.
It was a pretty exciting day around here yesterday. My 13 year old son bought a laptop. A very nice laptop. Nicer than mine. I’m not jealous. Nope. Really. Actually, I’m very proud. Yup. Proud mama right here!
Geo has been asking for a laptop for at least a year now.
“For Christmas??” No.
“For my birthday??” No.
“I need one!” No.
My husband and I don’t always say no. However, there are some very important principles that we want our kids to learn about money and saying yes all the time defeats those lessons.
#1. Money is finite. Keep your priorities straight!
My husband is the only money maker in this house at the moment. We are very blessed that his income gives me the opportunity to stay home. It gives the kids the option to be homeschooled. More importantly though, is it pays the bills.
We budget all of our expenses, needs and wants on one income. Therefore we have to make sure certain things are taken care of before we go handing out money for pleasure items. Things like rent, groceries, fuel oil, car expenses, clothing.
Yes, a laptop is cool. But being homeless, hungry, cold, and naked are not.
#2. Work for it. God blesses those who work.
Peeking inside the box!
This summer, Geo got an introduction to cutting grass. He’s been mowing grass around our place for years now but this year he did some mowing for others.
His first opportunity was really more of a desire to serve. An elderly widow in our church needed someone to help her. She wasn’t able to pay for it and those that had been helping in previous years were no longer able. This lady also happens to have been Geo’s reading teacher when he was in kindergarten at the Christian Academy at our church. So he stepped up and volunteered to cut her grass. Yup. Proud mama here!
I was more than happy to take Geo over a couple times a month and have a visit with our dear sister while he worked for hours mowing and trimming. He was satisfied with being a help to someone who needed it. But, somehow word of his good deeds reached our pastor. He wanted to compensate Geo for his work because the Bible says that it is the pastor’s duty to make sure the widows and orphans are cared for. So Geo was blessed for serving others.
His second opportunity came when close friends of ours moved to another state. They put their house up for sale and needed the lawns mowed while the house was on the market. Since they knew that Geo was already cutting grass for others, they asked if he would help them too. They paid him for several mowings up front and then mailed him a check for the mowings after that.
#3. Save for it. No money = no opportunity.
Little sister learns what saving can do!
Some people are natural savers. Some are spenders.
Luckily, this was not a hard lesson for Geo because he is a natural saver. He finds comfort in watching his money pile up. He knows how long it took and how many hours of work to accumulate what he has. He doesn’t have a miser mentality. He sees money as opportunity. Because that’s really what it is. It’s an opportunity to help others. It’s an opportunity to enjoy things. It’s a little padding between you and life.
Geo may be 13 but he has had plenty of opportunity to use his money. He has always been taught to give a tithe (10%) to the church. He has often given to special needs presented for works of God like missionary needs, building needs, and fundraising.
Geo has secretly (at the time) and anonymously given to adults in need when he overheard their story. One occasion, leaving $10 in the driver’s seat of our friend’s car because he heard of his financial struggle and wanted to help. He told us several days later. On another occasion, he was able to cover the cost of a purchase when the adult he was with had forgotten their wallet.
For a 13 year old, my son has a keen awareness that by spending all that you have on little things, you lose the opportunity to do more with your money. Money is a tool that can be made to work in a variety of ways.
#4. Wait for it. You don’t have to settle.
Patience is one of the hardest things to teach children. It’s also one of the hardest things for all people to learn. Delayed pleasure. Ouch!
Geo has been watching the fliers. Especially around Black Friday and Christmas time. He’s been eyeing other’s laptops. He had a pretty solid idea of what he wanted. He also knew that sometimes good deals can pop up. But you never can tell when it might happen.
Since he had been saving up money, he knew what his price point was. And it was lower than what he needed for the computer he wanted. But good things come to those who wait. Geo wasn’t willing to settle for a lesser model just because he didn’t have enough money. He would just have to continue saving money or find a great deal.
Ahhh… it feels so nice!
This week a flier to the office supply store, Staples, listed a sale for $200 off a Dell Inspirion touch screen with 8GB of RAM and a TB of storage making the laptop $349. This was it! Geo put in a call to our local store to see if they had it in stock. Yes! He put a hold on it until the next day when the sale started. Did I say I was proud??
#5. Pay cash! Take ownership.
Because Geo had spent the summer saving up some money, knew what he wanted, and was willing to wait for a good deal, he was able to walk in a pay cash for his laptop.
Paying in cash is important for a couple of reasons. First, it is a tangible trade of hard work for reward. You see the money you worked for changing hands in trade for an item you really want.
Second, there are no payments that follow you home. When you pay for something with cash, that item is truly yours and you own it. Then you can really enjoy every moment with it.
Having your children take true ownership of expensive items is a great way to ensure that they take care of it. This laptop represents an entire summer of work and savings for Geo. He’s going to be very picky about who uses it, how it’s used and where it’s used. It wouldn’t be the same if we had simply given him the laptop or given him the money for the laptop.
The bonus to learning all of these lessons as kids is that they all still apply when you’re an adult, only to the nth degree. We can all put these lessons into practice and reap the benefits. But, oh to have learned them when I was young! My children are so blessed to have parents that tell them NO!
I’ve found that new beginnings don’t always start with a new concept or situation. Sometimes it has more to do with refining what we already know. Starting over. Getting a do-over. Wiping the slate clean. Or sometimes just taking what we know to a new level. I feel like this year will be more of the latter.
A few weeks ago our Pastor spoke to my husband about our willingness to present a Financial Freedom class at our church. We have had a lot of experience with Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course. We’ve taught it to individuals in our home and led a class a few years ago at church. We accepted the responsibility to present the material. We aren’t financial gurus, we’re just people who failed at this money thing and learned something in the process.
Our Financial Story
Nearly five years ago, our family went through a financial crisis. My husband lost his job in a down-turned economy shortly after buying a house. His masters degree in information technologies made no difference. He was forced to work at McDonald’s for nearly 10 months. At minimum wage, we were no longer able to make our mortgage payments. By the time my husband got another job that would cover the bills, the house was too far behind. We were ignorant of how to handle such situations and ended up going through a foreclosure.
The foreclosure was handled by an unscrupulous attorney’s office who was not forthcoming with information. The sheriff served us with papers saying that we had 48 hours to vacate the premises one day before we received a letter from the attorney’s office stating the foreclosure was complete. It was a scary time.
Thankfully, in the time that my husband was working at McDonald’s, I came across a book of Dave Ramsey’s called Priceless at Goodwill. I recognized the name but really didn’t know anything about him. When I flipped though it, I noticed that there were scriptures included and that Dave was interested in handling money God’s way. I bought the book for 99 cents. It revolutionized my way of thinking.
It wasn’t long before my husband jumped on board with the new ideas and we started implementing Dave’s and the Bible’s teachings on money. When we were forced to move, we had money set aside that made the transition much easier. We also had the knowledge to not make the same mistakes twice.
Since that time, we have been eager to share our story and the information that we’ve found with others that are in similar situations. There are a lot of people who are hurting financially just because they don’t have the knowledge to handle it better. It is our privilege and our way of giving back to present the information that we have learned to others. Our first class was Tuesday.
I don’t have it all figured out. And it sure is easy to slip back into old habits. That’s why teaching these financial classes are so good for us. It causes us to readjust and get motivated again. So this year, I’m grab onto what I already know and take it to a new level.
What is it that you want to improve in your life this year?
I remember one of the first books I ever read on setting goals started with the exercise of imagining yourself in the perfect setting. It was supposed to motivate you to take action, even if just little steps of progress. You wrote it down and keep it as a reminder of why you were willing to work and sacrifice.
Ask yourself these questions:
What would you be doing?
What would you be wearing?
Who would be with you?
What would your surroundings look like?
What would you hear?
What would you smell?
What is the weather like?
The picture that came to my mind was so vivid.
I see myself sitting on a stool at the breakfast bar in my dream barn-style home. I have a cup of coffee in my hand and a book open in front of me. The french doors to my left are open to the patio and a summer breeze filters in. Beyond the patio, the morning sunlight reflects off a small swimming pool and the scent of wild roses permeates the air. I feel comfortable in my long flowing skirt and light cardigan from Coldwater Creek. The birds chirping are the only sounds I hear. I take a deep breath. My mind is quiet.
It’s amazing to me that after 15+ years I can still see the picture in my head. And part of what stands out to me is the “Coldwater Creek” attire. I loved looking at the catalogs when I was a girl. The models looked modest and kempt and comfortable. Someday I wanted a wardrobe of exclusively Coldwater Creek clothing. I still love their clothes. I guess I always thought that they were out of my league because of the cost. I could look, but I couldn’t buy. So that’s why Coldwater Creek made it’s way into my perfect world.
Well, my dream isn’t quite a reality yet. I still long for my barn home, patio and pool. I have done my best to make sure I get quiet time with my coffee and books. I like to sit outside in the summer breeze to read and take in the scents and sounds. I may never make it to my perfect world in this life. But I’ll enjoy the little pieces I can get here and there.
I was so excited this past week when Ocean State Job Lot advertised Coldwater Creek tops in their circular. Last night I went into the store and bought two sweaters for $10 each. These are my first articles ever from Coldwater Creek. They are incredibly beautiful and comfortable just like I imagined.
Another little piece of perfection.
What part of your perfect world are you enjoying now?
When we were at Goodwill just before New Year’s Day, I went looking for a nice puzzle for our New Year’s Eve tradition. I came across a 1000 piece Thomas Kinkade puzzle with the picture of a man fishing alone in the middle of a beautiful mountain scene. Immediately the image stuck me as perfect.
It took 3 days to complete the puzzle. It nearly consumed me. Every piece that clicked into place was a personal victory. As the image started to take shape, I couldn’t help contemplating the man in the picture and how he related to me.
Strange. I know.
To be honest, I don’t think the painting is one of Kinkade’s best works. The colors are very muted. Almost boring. The pink sunset blended with the heather mountains that blended with the clay rocks that blended into the stream that reflected the sunset.
So why did this image strike a chord with me?
It was the fisherman. Wearing his red plaid shirt, he was the only spot of color. He was alone in the vast expanse of beauty. He was there because he chose to be. Because he enjoyed taking a few minutes to be alone with his thoughts. To be inside his own head for a while without any interruptions. Maybe fishing wasn’t his passion. Maybe it was his excuse to get away from the noise. Maybe this is how he recharged so he could face another day. He’s an introvert like me. This man in the painting. Who has never lived a day. I know him.
I did a quick Google search and found the name of this painting is Almost Heaven. Fitting, I think. A quiet place where I can relax without any demands on my time or energy is almost heaven for me. However, I have a few extroverted friends that, though they would enjoy the beauty of a place like this, would be bored to death in about 2 minutes. They suffocate in quiet. I suffocate in noise.
I left the puzzle up for a day after it was finished. More because I wanted to celebrate my perseverance and introversion than because I liked the picture. I don’t really. It’s not my style. But I did enjoy the time of introspection.
The puzzle is in pieces again and will likely go back to Goodwill.
Most of us suffer something called “time poverty.” When it seems there aren’t enough hours in a day to accomplish all that we need to do, or think we need to do. We’re always looking for time management techniques just so we can “make” more time. I’m one of them.
On my way to clean my friend’s house!
And sometimes I’m not.
I enjoy a lot of flexibility in my life. I manage a home and school my children. Both things could easily be a full time job on its own. But our schedule isn’t etched in stone. I can usually squeeze time out of most any day.
Recently, I was asked by some close friends, who are going through a tough time, for some help. They both work full time and are in the process of selling their house. The house is empty but needed to be cleaned before it could be shown. Neither of them had the time.
I’m very happy that on the first day of 2015 I was able to share some of my time with someone else.
Though it is true that each one of us only gets 24 hours each day, we can add time to someone’s day by giving of ours. I did the cleaning and they got to check it off their to-do list.
There are days when I don’t have time to spare. There are days when others share their time with me. Time is one of the most precious gifts. Often, it’s the most valuable asset we have. Use it wisely. Give it generously.