Welcome to my blog about my journey through this book and it's challenges. It's a simple exercise, but it's good for me. I hope you enjoy the blips and slips and funny moments. You may even learn a thing or two too!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Week 5--Monday Evening 1/31/11

Well, I said "I'm sorry" twice today, and it was said to me twice today.  My sorries were for the following:  Almost hitting a poor woman as she was exiting her vehicle today while running an errand and the second one for confusing someone else with my incoherent babble because I wasn't thinking too clearly.
I was very pleasantly surprised by the first "sorry" I received today--unexpected and heartwarming.  The second sorry was a comforting one from my hubby after a long day with frayed nerves. 
I should buy stock in "I'm sorry" because after this ice storm is done, I guarantee there will be several of the apologies flying round due to dented bumpers and twisted fenders.  Let's see if the author of this week's adage is right about a well-meaning "I'm sorry"--will it deter lawsuits?

Week 5--Monday Morning 1/31/11

This post has nothing to do with "I'm sorry."  Simply a realization:  a red-polish manicure is like buying a new car off the lot--as soon as the newness wears off, it depreciates quickly!  I kid you not; four coats of nail polish  (base, color, 2nd color, top coat) yesterday and already the edges are dinked and the "shiny" factor has dropped--just like buying a car.  If you drive it off the lot, it's bound to get a dink in the first parking lot!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Week 5--Sunday--"I'm Sorry." 1/30/11

Keeping with January 201's apparent theme of inward-examination in pursuit of personal growth, my husband's pick of cards this week reads:  "I'm Sorry."  Week five's mission:  "Learn to say I'm sorry.  Learn to mean it.  Learn when to say it, and use it.  These two works can prevent fights, save relationships, and avoid lawsuits. (Not bad for two simple words.)

Avoid lawsuits?  Hmmmm...not so sure about that one.  I like that the card emphasizes when to say and use an, "I'm sorry."  Nothing worse than someone apologizing without a contrite heart; it's as easy to spot a fake apology as it is to spot a toupee. 

My hubby picked out the card this afternoon around 1pm; I already has an honest apology for him by 3pm based upon something he mentioned I did that hurt his feelings years ago--and he deserved an apology.  It was the right time and place to offer the olive branch.  If you're truly sorry, there's no time like the present to say it. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Week 4--Friday Evening 1/28/11

I asked a rhetorical question yesterday about why patience is hailed as a virtue.  A reader of this blog offered some insight:  Reference Romans 5:3-5, James 1:4, 2 and Peter 1:5-8:  "Patience is hupomone in Greek and her sister is macrothemia – long suffering, an outflowing of love,  which is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).  Patience deals with situations and long suffering deals with people." 

I thought, what is the definition of a "virtue?"  A virtue is, according to "moral excellence; goodness; righteousness; a good or admirable quality or property."  OK, what then, is the definition of a "moral?"  A moral is: "founded on the fundamental principles of right conduct rather than on legalities, enactment, or custom." 

If patience deals with situations, and having strong patience makes you a more moral, virtuous person, does that mean you are more likely to make situational decisions based upon what is principally "right" versus customarily "right?"  I wonder, were movers and shakers in history characteristically patient people? Well, perhaps some point, the long suffering--patience, of the crowd at the Bastille obviously passed the tipping point.

I fear I am thinking way too deeply for a Friday night...oh, by the way:  the Patience Award today goes to the guy at the fast  food joint who kindly gave me a free thickburger with my whopper coupon--after a hearty laugh :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Week 4 Thursday Evening 1/27/11

I made efforts to be patient today; though I did not have a "perfect patience" day, I was mindful enough to reign in the hastiness.  I don't have much to more to say for the day...except, as in the words of Scarlett O'Hara, "Tomorrow is another day!"

Week 4--Thursday Morning 1/27/11

"Patience is a virtue." Why do people say that?  I've learned that if I pray for patience, inevitably God will hit me right and left with tests to build patience.  I will say that for Tuesday and Wednesday I did OK in the department of patience mindfulness.  In involved a lot of listening--without interjecting my own opinion. 

I did, though, at the end of the day, roll quickly down the slope of virtuous patience as I watched my husband try to open a bottle of wine.  I wasn't patient; I was annoyed--and it wasn't his fault.  He doesn't drink and is not used to opening a bottle of vino with an archaic tool.  I could feel (and evidently he could as well) the fuse shortening as he turned the screw without top-down pressure.  What resulted was a lot of little cork pieces falling on the counter top, but no movement of the actual cork. 

I should have walked away and let him figure it out while I took a bath.  But I didn't; strike one for me.  It was the end of a long day with a rough migraine...I apologized to my hubby who bore my short fuse rather well.  Lesson learned?  Inability to be patient can and will affect family--most often negatively--and result in a well-deserved apology.  Remedy?  When you feel that fuse lighting, remove yourself and take five :

Monday, January 24, 2011

Week 4--Monday--"Be Patient"

Week four's card reads, "Be Patient"  Ahhhhhhhh!  So far this January, I have had to combine errands, be a better listener, and strive to cease self-depreciating--all in the coldest, most depressing days of winter!  For most who know me well, patience is a virtue I strive to improve; however, I move quickly.  I think of my speed in task completion as a sense of urgency, in a good way.  But I know everyone is not wired that way; I'm sure that "stopping to smell the roses" will lengthen my life as well.

The card reads, "All right, so other people are rarely as smart, quick, and perfect as you always are, but you have to share the planet with them anyway.  Don't you just hate that?  So learn to be patient.  You'll live longer.  And if you find you are being particularly critical of the too-slow sales help, check in with your inner critic--maybe you are this hard on yourself as well.  Perhaps you need to show a little more compassion for others and for yourself." 

I think I may need to drink decaf this week...excessive speed may result in "collisions."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Week 3--Saturday

I have to say in my journey thus far that this week seemed...uneventful.  Perhaps it's because I once again had a task that was predominantly intrinsic.  I think I did pretty well in  my attempts to cease self-depreciating statements and actions this past week  As expected, when I did fall into negative self-talk, it correlated with high stress events during the day.  Right now, the stress is constant;  finding ways to buffer it have helped, but I have to make myself.  I did gain helpful insight by asking my husband to give me some feedback.  Week four starts tomorrow...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Week 3--Tuesday

Ugh.  Does saying, "I'm sorry" too much indicate a lack of self-appreciating?  I once had someone tell me I said "sorry" too much.  What if you say it because you want to be conscientious of others feelings and you're apologizing because you're not yourself? You know you aren't giving it all you've got...or you know that you're being confusing, or you have something on your mind.   Does this count as a self-defeating behavior?  Well, I said "sorry" probably five times heart's in the right spot :)

Week 3--Tuesday Morning

"I suck at board games!"  It popped out of my mouth yesterday as Ronnie meticulously worked his way across the checker board.  I think that counts as a self-defeating statement, but I truly don't like board games--at all.  By the end of the day Monday, I had counted up four self-defeating statements; Ronnie is right--three of the four were related to body image. 

It appears, as it stated at the onset of this "Make A Difference" adventure, the theme weaving its way through these past three weeks is "mindfulness."  It takes conscientiousness to observe your own behaviors and really see where your being self-defeating.  It also means you have to be honest with yourself--like knowing there are a gazillion dust bunnies under that piece of furniture but ignoring them, hoping they will vanish on their own.  Nope, you have to take the time to move the furniture, be slightly shocked and shamed at the sight before you, and then dive in to clean it well.  You know you have to do it, but you don't want to face it!  However, the crucible of discipline brings about an unexpected peace.  Peace is good...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Week 3--Sunday--"Quit Being Self-Defeating"

Ahhh, this is an interesting pick..."Quit Being Self-Defeating."  This week's card shows a Non-Smoking symbol with three examples of self-defeating behaviors:  smoking, nail-biting, and staying up late.  The back side of the card reads,

"What do you do that is self-defeating?  Is it a smoking habit?  A nail-biting fixation?  Perhaps it's just that you mumble instead of speaking up, and then say 'nothing' when asked to repeat what you said.  Maybe you blow up at your friends over little things.  Whatever it is, you know what it is.  What can you realistically change?  Do you really want to change?  Is there anything you can do that would allow you to feel happier and more empowered?  Find support among your friends or from community resources to help you maintain your commitment to stop a self-defeating habit."

So here's my thinking...If I have a self-defeating habit, then perhaps I weaken my ability to "make a difference?"  Reasonable?  We'll go with that.  I asked my husband for his qualitative analysis of my self-defeating behaviors and lo his response: "You don't have many self-defeating behaviors; I think your self-defeating behaviors are that you beat yourself up emotionally & mentally...feeling guilty too."  So I probed a bit further; how many times a week do I say something negative about myself--and what about?  He pauses, looks at me and says, "I would guess about twice a day...and usually about your body shape." 

BURN.  He's right though; what do I do about it?  Well, if I stop talking about it during the next seven days, that's good--not saying it aloud has benefits; however, it's not enough to cease speaking it aloud.  I need to cease thinking it to myself.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Week 2--Saturday Morning

The cursor is flashing at me, so perhaps I should just start writing...what I have learned this week is that listening is something to which we have to work at consistently and refine constantly.  While the end of my week did not change for the positive exponentially, I would rate myself a 3 instead of a 2.5 by Friday afternoon. 

I gained some insight about acquaintances I have known for years...and in turn, hopefully enabled them to feel validated by the exchange. My final thought:  listening is something I can only do well by sacrificing my desire to be heard--which means need to keep my eyes focused on the Lord--the ultimate Listener.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Week 2--Wednesday

Let me be perfectly transparent--this week, being a good listener is tough for me. In fact, I'm having one of those weeks where I need the non-judgemental ears.  Today I asked someone to please just listen for a small amount of time.  Was it helpful?  Yes.  Do I feel better? Not really sure.

I'm looking at the back of Week #2's card and it reads, "Hear what someone is telling you."  I think we all need to do a better job of "hearing" with all our senses, not just our ears.  Look at the person, read their body language, tone of voice...look at posture and gestures.  If we all worked to listen with all our faculties, perhaps we'd better understand how the person felt about what they were saying with their words.  Then perhaps we could feel the impact of the words, not just struggle to listen to them.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Week 2--Tuesday

I just had to express that the falling snow is beautiful...and peaceful.  It's the type of falling snow that when it hits your face, it makes a soft sound, like petals hitting the ground.  I can't remember the last time I felt snow fall on my face...usually it's the whipping of the North Wind as it shreds the layers of skin :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Week 2--Monday

Dear Lord,

Sometimes I don't want to have two ears to hear, unless it's the beautiful sound of a babbling brook, birds in the sky, or the laughter of little children.  Amen.

Busy day...I had to remind myself not to just offer a solution but to listen first and then ask--yes, that's right--I asked if they wanted me to just listen.  I had mixed results with this approach.  Is it possible to listen too much?  I'm just kidding...I certainly know I want to be heard and not offered a solution at times.

On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being poor listener, 5 being excellent a for improvement!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Week 2--Sunday--"Listen"

Week two has started; Ronnie drew a card today...and...drum roll second personal mission to make a difference in 2011 is to...LISTEN.  Did you hear me?  LISTEN.  You know,"God gave you one mouth and two ears for a reason."  Actually, I was slightly disappointed when I saw the card--the disappointment felt when you expect a Robert Frost's "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I took the road less traveled..." and get Dr. Seuss', "A cat sat on the mat." instead.  Simplicity can be good--refreshing. the front of the card says LISTEN with a cartoonish picture of a girl on a phone, listening and smiling--I think she looks like she's surviving, or perhaps, tolerating the voice at the other end of the line.  Anyway, the back description reads, "Listen more.  Don't just pretend to listen, really listen:  Hear what someone is telling you.  What this world needs more of (besides parking spaces) is people who can just listen, without giving unsolicited advice.  The validation of being heard is often more important and needed than solving whatever problem your friend is telling you about."

I do not profess to be a good listener; however, my strengths assessment 2.0 results say that I have the qualities to be a good listener.  It's not that I don't genuinely care about what my friends and colleagues have to say, it's just that I get tired of being filled up with others' drama day in and day out.  You know what I mean--in this fast-paced world there is too much information coming in from every direction.  My Mom says, "Let it roll off you like water off a duck's back."  It's not always that easy, but this week, I will make every concerted effort to be mindful of listening, not solving (unless necessity compells me to do so)...

"Do you hear what I hear?"

Friday, January 7, 2011

Week 1--Friday

Speechless--that's what I left my sister when I asked her if I could pick up anything for her while I was at WalMart this evening.  My sis and I have plans to start our workouts to prepare for a 5 mile run/walk/hike event we are doing this spring; since I was going to her place in the morning, why not take her what she needed, right?  Isn't that the first of my "Make a Difference" goals? 

I called her, chatted about bridesmaids dresses (I'm also the maid of honor in her wedding this coming Spring) and then asked, "Need me to pick up anything at WalMart while I'm out?"  I could hear her breathe in, think, stutter, and then say, "What?  What do you mean?"  I told her I just figured I'd extend the offer since I had some weekly shopping.  She was thankful, to say the least, shocked is more like it (which actually makes me feel sorta sheepish and worried a bit) and said she needed Aussie hair conditioner.

Mission accomplished--and what did I learn?  I learned that it may seems simple and easy to ask if someone needs help with an errand, but in Indiana winters, it's more challenging than it seems, especially when you don't see your neighbors until April, you've worked overtime most of the stressful week, and typically run errands on a set schedule.  I'm still trying to figure out if my sister was more shocked that I asked her, or if it's something she's not used to in general. She did have a tough week--perhaps I lifted her spirits...that's what I'm going with at least :) TGIF...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Week 1--Wednesday

Irony--here I am looking for an opportunity to help out a friend, neighbor, etc. and I get a call from a friend who offers to pick up some yogurt for me while she's at the market because it's the BEST yogurt EVER--she introduced me to it and I couldn't find any at the market this past Monday.  Actually, she has called the market ahead of time to be put on the "hold" list for this yogurt...and offered to get me some while she was there--she's very kind...and yes, I realize the humor in waiting for yogurt as if I was on the waiting list for a Wii....ironic moment...onward....

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Week 1--Tuesday

Work, work, work--first day back after a holiday weekend is always...swamped.  I hope to run some errands tomorrow I did not finish Monday.  Let's hope I can "piggyback" someone else's errand with my own and help a girlfriend out!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Week 1--Monday--"Piggyback Errands"

Well, I had several errands to run today; thankfully was off work so I could get a good chunk of time in and visit most places.  I called up a friend to offer to "piggyback" an errand--no hit today.  One thing I realized:  It should not have to take me starting a blog and working though this deck of cards to offer to help out a friend or neighbor with an errand.  Mindfulness--that's what I learned today--it's easy to ask if someone needs something while your out...why don't I think of it when the opportunity presents itself?  Perhaps I'm in tunnel vision--go, go, go...I will try again tomorrow--I still have errands left!

Let the Journey Begin...52 Ways to Make a Difference in 2011

Readers, (if there are any :)

I cleaned this past New Year's Day, 2011; yes, cleaned.  I have an office which houses, along with every college textbook and notebook to boot, a load of notecards, electronic gadgets, etc. which has piled up these past few years in our home. 

I found a deck of cards; not a deck of playing cards, but a deck of cards with a purpose.  52 Ways to Make a Difference, by Lynn Gordon.  Essentially, it's a book in a box.   Kudos to Ms. Gordon; the card deck is a novel way to carry a piece of wisdom with you.  These cute, unassuming cards each have a short word phrase listed on one side above a cute picture.  The phrase and photo represent a "task" explained on the flip side of the card.  I believe the purpose of these cards is to provoke the reader to become more mindful--to stop and think about the "little things" one can do to help their fellow man--or even themselves.  So, in essence, this blog will be a journal of my journey to become more mindful in 2011--to think of others,  and I hope, to teach myself something in the doing.

I'm not the New Year's resolution type, however, since I've apparently had these cards for who knows how many years, buried under CD cases, books and file boxes, it's time they go to use.  And they will only serve a purpose if I put the "time, effort and optimism" into using them, as suggested by the author.

Therefore, I plan to pick a card (have my husband randomly draw a card each Sunday) and make it my personal goal to do whatever the card's task assigns me within that week.  Yes, it's a bit like the widely popular, Julie & Julia book heroine's project of recent fame, but not nearly as lofty (I'm not a gourmet as my husband will tell you :). 

Week 1:  January 2nd, 2011: Piggyback Errands:  "If you have to run errands, then see if you can help a neighbor or friend by offering to run an errand for them."  My twist--to see if I can efficiently run errands and not drive all over hell's half acre...gas is not cheap at the moment :)