My Least Favorite Four-Letter Word

Busy

B-U-S-Y.

It’s one of my least favorite four-letter words.

No matter where you look, people are busy. And the typical answer when asking someone you haven’t seen for a while how they’ve been, is “Busy.”

People are busy. Work is busy. Life is busy. Everything and everyone is busy. We’re busy at work and then busy when we get home as we try to get everything done before we fall into bed, exhausted, only to start it up all over again as soon as the alarm goes off. And when we’re not busy? We think something is wrong.

Too many people base their value on how busy they are. If they’re getting things done (aka: staying busy), it means they’re proving their worth.

I like to think back to when I was a kid. I woke up in the morning, got ready for school, ate breakfast, then caught the bus, riding an hour each way to and from school. While on the bus, I either talked with friends or read a book. I didn’t have a cell phone or computer. After school I made supper. When my parents got home from work we sat down at the table and ate together as a family. After dinner was dishes–by hand, homework, perhaps a little TV, then off to bed.

These days every moment of downtown is absorbed by iPhones, iPads, televisions, and computers. Texting, emailing, checking texts and emails every couple of minutes, YouTube videos, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and checking off the multiple items on one’s to-do list. And have you ever really paid attention to what’s on your to-do list? It’s typically things you have to do, not things you want to do. Trust me, if you enjoy something, you will remember to do it. Give your to-do list some white space so you have time to breathe. Only jot down what has to be done that day.

Don’t be so busy that you don’t enjoy life. Learn to say ‘no.’ Make a list of what’s really important to you and focus on doing more of those things. While I’m not suggesting shirking your responsibilities or letting your family fend for themselves every evening for dinner, what I am suggesting is to be mindful of what you’re keeping so busy with. If it’s not something that has to be done, consider cutting it from your list. Take a break from electronics and let your brain rejuvenate. Base your life’s worth on the quality of the relationships with the people who mean the most to you, not on how much you’re getting done.

Many people, at the end of their lives, have been known to have regrets about neglecting what or who is important to them. I’ve never heard of anyone having regrets about not being busy enough. Strive to be a human-being rather than a human-doing.

With text messaging and e-mails buzzing in our pockets, our constant availability for phone calls, and hot new apps and social media on our phones, we are more distracted, more unfocused and more enmeshed in sweating the small stuff than ever before. And this leads to many of us feeling like we’re sprinting every day but really not getting anywhere.
― Dean Graziosi, Millionaire Success Habits: The Gateway To Wealth & Prosperity

Be Still

 

Thankful Thursday – The Lives and Health of My Boys

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I clearly remember the phone call I received from my 16-year-old son while I was nearing the end of a workday.  “Mom, I saw someone shot.  They aren’t moving.  Mom, there’s so much blood.” And the line went dead.

I attempted to call him back immediately, my fingers numb and not even feeling the number keys.  No answer.  The thought of praying escaped me while I was consumed with fear._MG_0597

After calling 9-1-1 in a desperate attempt for answers, the dispatcher assured me my son was fine, to remain calm, and to keep calling him until he answered.

Calm?  Not a chance.  My adrenaline was speeding far too fast to slow down, much less be calm.

As I look back on that day, how he happened to be driving on a road at the very time two men were attempting to carjack several vehicles, the bullets that splayed past my son as the two suspects were shot by investigators, an officer stopping my son and telling him to call 9-1-1 while the officer kept his gun on the suspect, I realize God was in control.  Of that particular situation and of my son’s life.

And I am so thankful for his life and his health.  And for a God who protects and saves.

My son’s comment as he tried to process such a horrific scene as best a 16-year-old can, “It’s not like it is in video games.  There’s so much blood.”  And my response, “You’re right, son.  In life there are no do-over’s when it comes to death.  It’s for real.”

A hard lesson for a child.

I remember the phone call I received two years later about my other son, then 17 years old, as I had just gotten settled in the stands to watch a Colorado Rockies baseball game.

MN 2009 001

“Ben had an accident at the pool.  He’s okay but they’re taking him to the hospital with a head injury.”

“He’s okay” and “head injury” in the same sentence created sparks of conflict in my mind.  Besides that, he was a lifeguard.  How could he have an accident? I tried to reason without success.

On a 30-minute car ride to the hospital that felt more like 3 hours, I arrived in time for tests to reveal it was more serious than they had thought.  He had brain bleeding and two neck fractures.  He was whisked off to a trauma hospital with me not a half of a step behind him, jumping in the ambulance beside him and the paramedic.

And once again, I realize God was in control of that particular situation and of my son’s life. And once again I am so thankful for my son’s life and his health.  And for a God who protects and saves.

The neurologist’s words, “A person normally doesn’t live from such an injury, much less walk again. You’re very lucky.”  And my whispered words, “God has a plan for your life, son.”photo (25)

I wasted too much time feeling sorry for myself, horrified by all of the “what-if” scenarios my mind circled around;  time wasted that I could–and should–have been praising Him for His presence.  For not “almost” taking my boys from me, but completely shielding them from real harm. For giving them protection and life.  Twice.

God gave me my boys not once, but twice.  He gave His own Son so that I may have mine forever.  Thankful?  Words cannot even begin to express.

English: Rainbow

Here’s to a heart of gratitude from a parent for the lives of her children to the ultimate Parent of all.

All is Grace.

“H” is for…

Home

It’s my favorite place in the entire world.  But more than a place, I think of it as a state of being.

Home is where I am when I have my kids and grandkids with me, whether it’s at my house or elsewhere.

Home is where I am when I’m on a nature walk, feeling complete serenity and peace, at one with mother nature, drinking in the sights and fragrance of the woodsy fullness around me.

Home is where I am when I’m having my quiet time with God every morning in the silence of my study, lamplight and candlelight, before the rest of the house is stirring, and when I’m lying in the stillness at night, just before I drift off to sleep, giving Him thanks for the day He gave me.

Home is where I’m going to be with my Savior one day.

Home is where I am when I’m snuggled next to my husband watching a movie or each in our own chair, yet together, enjoying a good book.

Home is where I am when I’m outdoors, the sun’s warmth on my shoulders warming through and through, or snuggled under a blanket with a cup of hot tea and a good book listening to the raindrops pepper the roof.

Home is where I am when I’m alone in the quiet of the evening, knowing everyone is tucked in their beds, and believing God has each in the palm of His hand.

Home is where I am when I’m curled up with a good book, a bowl of popcorn and an A & W 10 cracked open beside me. Mmmmm… 🙂

And Home is where I am when I’m writing, whether the words are flowing or whether I’m simply sitting and pondering a thought, story idea, character sketch…writing is where I find solace, comfort, and sense of security, as insecure as I can be in my writing.  The words themselves, are balm to the scrapes and bruised accumulated throughout the day.

Home is where the heart is

Write on.

Peace.

 

Electronic Disconnection

Cell Phone

I’ve blogged about this exact thing once before, and as much peace as it brings when I do it, I still don’t seem to practice it nearly enough. Electronics can pull more energy from relationships than they add.

It makes me sad when I see a young child talking to mom or dad who is more connected with their cell phone than with the child.  Does that parent know that they can never get that moment back again?

My heart bleeds when I’m at the coffee shop and see a child with mom or dad, the child a happy chatterbox, full of animation, trying to get the attention of the one they look up to and love so much, but mom or dad is too connected to their open laptop to notice.

Or the couple at the table next to me in a restaurant, no conversation to be seen or heard, while one–or both–of them are texting, surfing the Internet on a cell phone, or watching the game on the TV hanging near their table.

And then there’s the occupants of the car next to me at a stoplight, each texting away on their respective cell phones, frequently even the driver.

And what makes my heart bleed even more is the frequency of which I’ve done those things myself without even realizing it.

It’s easy to see more clearly when we’re disconnected from a situation, so to think how much clearer I could see what’s right in front of my own face when I’m disconnected from electronics seems like it should be a no-brainer.  And yet, how much time has slipped through my fingers like a fist full of sand, as I fall into the habit of blocking out everything but the empty entertainment of the screen in front of me.

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If I could go back and have a “do-over” I would:

Leave the cell phone at home when taking my kids on an outing.  I would watch them take in their surroundings, watching as they see things for the first time, rather than see something on the screen of my cell phone for the umpteenth time.

I would sit on the floor playing with my children, rather than sit there watching a television program while they played around me.

I would read a book to them, engaging them in the story, rather than let them live their story without me present to watch.

I would listen intently to how their day was, their experiences, hopes and dreams, rather than listen to how the world was on the news, letting them know they are my world.

I would let them know that what they said truly mattered, more than anything in the world, as I gave them my undivided attention, listening to what they had to say rather than say “I’m busy. Can we talk later?”  Later may not come.

I would stop cleaning, cooking, playing a game on the computer or watching TV to simply be with them, 100% present.

If the phone was ringing, or beeping with an incoming text message, during a conversation with a loved one, or while spending quiet time together, I would let it ring without answering it, or even a sneak peak at the text message, letting my loved one know their presence is more important to me than the phone.

Rather than run back in the house two seconds after leaving to get the forgotten cell phone, I would run back in to give the forgotten hug or say the forgotten “I Love You” to the loved one remaining behind.

When I’m on a date with my husband, I would leave my phone at home, or tucked away in my purse, letting him know the time I spend with him is valuable to me.

And while I can’t go back and start over, getting back time that has past, it’s never too late to start over.  Right.  Now.   While I can’t start the day over, I can start over anytime during the day.  And that is a blessing I intend to take advantage of, practicing until it becomes more the norm than not.

No electronics

Book Synopsis

      Since NaNaWriMo is just around the corner, which means the rough draft of another novel, God willing, I decided to post the synopsis to the book I’m finally finishing up.  All comments are welcome.  🙂
photo (15)

The Inheritance

         When Victor and Vivian Forrester meet their unexpected fate on their way home from hosting a charity dinner, it leaves their three estranged adult children with an unexpected fate of their own.

            Madison has the perfectly planned life of which her two young children are the center, leaving no room for anything or anyone else, including her husband.  Her career as a psychiatrist enables her to validate her self-worth and give her children everything they want.  She has made a promise to herself that her children will never be without, vowing to give them the best childhood anyone could ever have.

Maxwell is a successful partner of a law firm, who is as skilled at playing the ladies as he is in the courtroom. He has long since written off his family in order to avoid having to answer to anyone.

Molly is a writer and free spirit who has lost herself in the miry pit of self-pity, claiming her title as black sheep of the family.  She tries to drown and numb the pain from years of being misunderstood by her family, only to find herself on the lowest rung of life’s ladder.

What none of them expect after the shock of their parent’s death is the shock of learning what is in the will their parents carefully constructed.  That will lists steps required by each of them before they can claim their substantial inheritance.  Those requirements take them on a journey of self-discovery and change that leads to wealth far greater than any of them had ever expected.

Minnesota Farm House

All is Grace.

Thankful Thursday — Autumn & New Beginnings

Autumn's Arrival

Autumn–even the word is beautiful, not to mention pleasing to all five senses.

It conjures up images of evening lamplight, candle flames flickering and dancing on walls of rooms darkening a wee bit earlier each evening, the scents of food cooking in the crockpot, fresh stewed tomatoes canning, and the smells of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Autumn brings with it the warmth of the sun on a clear, cool day, and crisp evenings in the rocker on the porch with a soft, warm blanket and a cup of herbal tea.

tea tin

It brings afternoons of fun, laughter, and exercising together as a family while raking leaves into huge piles in which to jump and bury one another.

It’s a time where the trees’ clothing magically turns from green to multiple hues of fire orange, golden yellow, and vibrant red–the hallmark of Autumn–as well as the scent of those changing and fallen leaves, the fullness and completeness of summer. The closing of one book and opening of another.

And that new book contains so many new beginnings. Fresh starts. Its energy breathes new life into my bones, hot and tired from the heat and busyness that tends to take over summer before we even know what happened.

It’s the start of preparing my home for cozy evenings spent in front of the fireplace, hot apple cider while reading a good book on the back porch, wool sweaters, and those soft and comfy hoodies.

Walks in the woods, dried, fallen leaves swirling around my feet and crunching under each step, the woodsy smell and earth’s aroma as nature, too, readies itself for sleep in order to prepare for a new season. The chill in the breeze making rosy circles on smiling cheeks.

Autumn seems to be the start of a new writing season for me. It’s the time I plan–the stories and a writing schedule that will carry me through the winter. Also planning my next NaNoWriMo project. And though it means a schedule, it’s a feeling of coming home to that place I find freedom, warmth, security, and even exhilarating madness that somehow feels comforting.

It’s the beginning of a new holiday season, of time spent with family and friends, the annual conference for my day job in the breathtaking mountains of Keystone, Colorado, as well as a Writers Retreat in a serene retreat center snuggled in the Rockies, the latter being a first time adventure. A new beginning.

Leaves Under Water

It feels like God is especially close in the Autumn season, His presence surrounding every side of me and His blessings interwoven in every aspect of my life. And as I breathe in His magnificent presence, I bathe in the glow of His goodness. And I am so grateful.

All is Grace.

Reclaiming the Carefree Days of Summer

English: An irrigation sprinkler watering a ga...

Watching two of my young grandchildren play with such complete abandon in the pre-summer afternoon sunshine last Saturday, I longed for the days when summer was unhurried, unstressed, and carefree.  The days when summers weren’t defined by days spent within office walls watching the clock. Or when the most beautiful scenery wasn’t my computer screensaver.

I watched my granddaughter, clad in her little pink and white striped Hello Kitty tankini, her long wavy hair tangled and blowing every which way, smiling from ear to ear as sticky sweet juice from the watermelon she was devouring ran all the way to her elbows.

I watched her little brother, my grandson, so proud of his brand spanking new Spiderman swim trunks his mom brought home for him on her recent trip to Puerto Rico, his bare feet running through the grass, squirting his sister with a squirt gun, laughing.

My husband couldn’t resist the urge to play and began squirting me and his daughter through the open patio door, laughing as we squealed–half from surprise,  half from sheer delight.  Delight at playing.  Something as adults we take too little time to do as we get caught up in what we have allowed to become our life.

It was at that moment I decided to reclaim my summers of the past.  When I took time to play, creating memories that have carried me through too many summers that blurred past in a flurry of “planned” activities and to-do lists.

As the official start of summer arrives this week, I’ve resolved to reclaim my childhood.  I’m going to:

*    Just once–at least–run through a sprinkler.

*    Go on an old-fashioned picnic, complete with blanket, picnic basket, and book, and spend an afternoon by the river.

*    Have a guilt-free entire afternoon reading a good book, lying under a tree–a big oak tree if I can find one.  If for no other reason than the poetic magic of lying under the “big shady oak tree.”

Oak Trees

*    Sit on the porch, awning rolled out, cool glass of lemonade or iced tea by my side, doing absolutely nothing but drink in my  surroundings, whether it be the birds on the feeders, the dog frolicking in the grass, jumping on grasshoppers.Iced tea, popular throughout the U.S.

*    Spend a few evenings reclining on the back patio with a light blanket, a cup of tea, perhaps a candle, and star gaze.

*    Lay on my back in the grass with my grandchildren, using our imaginations to see what shapes we can see in the clouds.

*    At least once a day, practice becoming aware of my thoughts.  Rather than allowing several to tumble around within my head like clothes in a dryer, focus on just one, truly savoring that precise thought at that precise moment.

*    Rather than spend my Saturdays running around, crazy, trying to accomplish everything on my list, only do the things that absolutely have to be done that day and only one other item.  The rest will still be there the next day or the next weekend.  And by then may not even need to be done anymore.

What are some of the things you can do this summer to reclaim, and perhaps even relive,  your childhood summertime memories?  I would love to hear.

Grace to you.