How To Live With Purpose

Having promised you a lot in my blog’s  intro description with statements like: How can you live with purpose? How can you know why you are even spinning around this globe? The time has come for me to deliver.

You may already know the answers to the aforementioned questions. But, maybe, you are like me when I began to think introspective, deep, whats-the-purpose-of-my-life thoughts. I had no answers to my questions. All I knew at the time was:

work hard, be nice, have fun.

In my fun-seeking quest, I found myself at a Christian retreat center on a crisp Autumn  weekend, my sophomore college year.

BTW….I LOVE Fall.

The speaker told a bible story I had never heard. (Which was not difficult because I knew like-zero bible stories.) The story was about two sisters called Martha and Mary. The sisters were working hard (High value for me!) to prepare for dinner guests, and Jesus was one of the guests (Yikes! Work even harder!)

Martha was my kind of woman. She was getting after the preparations. She was moving down her to-do list like a boss. She was cleaning and cooking and making floral arrangements and checking Pinterest for cool tablescapes. Suddenly, she paused, looked around, and her sister Mary was no where to be found.

A Pinterest-Worthy Tablescape of which Martha Would Have Approved

Sweat was pouring down Martha’s face. (Kitchens must have been super hot in those days.) And when she finally found her sister, Mary (the slacker!) was seated at Jesus’ feet listening to Him teach. Martha’s head nearly exploded. She probably would have given Mary the Martha- Evil- Eye, but Mary wasn’t in a position to see it, so Martha decided to appeal to Jesus instead. (Oh… this was gonna be good.)

Martha was beyond trying to appeal to Mary. She went straight to the top, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?” (No need to wait for Jesus to respond. After all, it had been a rhetorical question asked to make a point. His answer, of course, would be “Slacker Mary, get to work.”)

Martha continued,”Tell her then to help me.” I imagined Martha giving Mary a very smirky smile.

The Lord answered Martha, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

WHAAAAAAAAAAA??????

Now MY head was exploding. How in the world would anybody  eat when everybody is just sitting around? How would the table be Instagram-able? Martha was my hero. She was…

me.

This story made no sense to my I-am-building-my-resume, I-join-every-club, I-am-a-perfectionist-over-achiever mind. Martha would totally get the best job upon college graduation. Martha probably ran the entire community with panache. Martha was so good she made work seem like a cinch.

How could Jesus have praised Mary… over Martha?

The speaker’s application that fine autumn Saturday was for each of us to take some time alone to ponder our life’s priorities. He challenged us to make a list of the top ten things in our lives. (Cool! I lived for lists!!!)

So, into the woods I went. And while sitting on a log, with my notebook and red Flair pen, I began to make my list.

Rifle Paper Company is My Fave Place for All-Things Paper

Let me pause right here and ask you some questions:

1.) When was the last time (if ever) that you have taken time away from your busy and very noisy existence to evaluate your life? Not time away to make your “to-do” list but time away to evaluate “your entire life trajectory” list.

2.) Before I return to finish this story, now would be a good opportunity. I encourage you to take a very introspective look at your life. Make a top ten list of your life’s priorities. Most importantly… be honest.

Come back next time to hear about “the list” and how I began to answer some tough life-altering questions.

Oh, and BTW, you can fill out the form to subscribe by email. I have a lot to say, and you won’t want to miss it.

 

 

 

How to Never Achieve Your Best

Do you struggle daily to achieve your best? Ever feel like you are drowning in a sea of unproductiveness? Do you ever get to the day’s end and want to shout,

“Stop the clock! Today was the day I was gonna crush it, but, instead, I feel crushed and over-whelmed.”

Just like this Cuckoo clock.

Celebrating our high school graduation, my friends and I hopped into our fathers’ “land yachts” (what we called their very large 1970’s cars) and headed down to Florida to test out our newly-sprouted freedom wings. (We were basically rule-abiding girls, so the trip was super-fun, yet very tame.) One of the last bits of advice given to us, however, was from a dad who shouted, “Don’t pull off the road into the sand!”

This is the group I’m talkin’ about. Nothing could go wrong… right?

Answer: Well, yep, something could go wrong. We pulled off the road… into the sand… and got terribly stuck. Oops. Glad someone’s dad had thought to join Triple A.

Have you ever done this? No matter how hard you hit the gas, the tires just continue to spin. That’s called being really “stuck”.

Life is the same way. Sometimes we think if we work harder and faster we will get the traction we need to get back on the road rollin’ in the land yacht. But, this is not true.

Being on-the-road to achieving your best begins with pre-determining your priorities and evaluating how you spend your time based upon those priorities. If we all have the same 24 hours in every day, then, why do some people seem to accomplish more? Why are some people able to be the crush-ers rather than the crush-ees? The answer is: They are able because they know their priorities and live their life accordingly.

Hmmmmmmmmm. What does this “priority” talk mean?

I think I can best illustrate the principle by saying: There are many good things to do, but there are only a few best things to do. Deciding your own personal pre-determined priorities allows you to have the ability to decipher the difference between good and best.

Being a “joiner”, a “fun-seeker”, and a “pleaser” at-heart, I naturally spent most of my life saying “yes” to everything. In my immaturity, I lived my life running from one yes to the other, always filling my daily schedule from dusk till bedtime.

Until one day, I said “no”

… to the head Church Lady, of all people. You may know her. She is super nice and is in charge of everything and is really good at directing people. I’m pretty dang sure no one had ever told her “no”… in the history of ever. And, to make matters more difficult, she asked me to do a very good thing, “Would you please sign up to cook and deliver a meal to this infirmed parishioner?”

My reply was simple. The look on her face was pure astonishment. “No, ‘mam,” rolled out of my mouth, and, with confidence on my side, I did not even feel the need to explain myself. Years down the road, as I have been in different seasons of life, I have been pleased to cook and deliver meals. However, for that season and that time, based upon my priorities, cooking a meal was a good thing, but was not the best thing for me.

I matured about 5 years the day I said “no” for the first time.

What are your top 3 to 5 priorities? Answering this question may be super-simple for some. For others, it might take a few days of pondering to make your list. For many years, my husband carried his priority list in his wallet as a reminder to evaluate time commitments through his personal filter of best vs. good.

In my next post, I am going to tell you a story about two sisters with very different priorities. Jesus had something to say about each of them. Surprisingly, He commended the sister I thought was a slacker. A life-changing thing had to happen in my life to make me see the story differently.

Please come back! I can not wait to tell you how this story changed me!

Oh, and BTW, you can fill out the form to subscribe by email. I have a lot to say, and you won’t want to miss it.

(Enjoying the View) Empty Nest Probs and Chain Saw Observations

No one lives in the country without a chain saw… except city kids who have been putting off spending money on one. We have had a chain saw before… several times. Like when we lived on the Gulf Coast, and we had a hurricane, and lots of trees were down, and the very muscular men who chopped up our downed-tree just chop, chop, chopped it like butter. The men made it look so easy, I said, ” We gotta get us a chain saw… because who lives on the Gulf Coast (where there are frequent storms) without a chain saw?” We never got to use it because we moved.

I think we sold it.

In our next city, far from the coast, there was a huge ice storm. I mean HUGE. Trees were snapping all around us. People were without power for days. It got so cold you could see your breath INSIDE our house. A very large tree limb smashed our deck. A very large tree fell in our yard. Large limbs were resting precariously against our house. The sound of chain-sawing could be heard all around the neighborhood, so I said, ” We gotta get us a chain saw… because who lives through an ice storm clean-up without a chain saw?” We bought a chain saw. When we cut the limb which was resting precariously against our house, the very large oak appendage  ended up smashing like a torpedo INTO our house. Physics. You know that subject which deals with matter, energy, motion, and force? We should have paid more attention in college.

After that, the chain saw rusted and rotted in the basement.

Fast forward… we live in the country. We heat our house with a super-cool, fancy, wood-burning central heating system. My husband actually enjoys loading it several times a day. We have the NICEST wood man in the county. He promptly delivers whenever we call. However, our wood pile frequently looks forlorn and bare at times because city kids don’t like to think about wood. It’s not in our DNA. Where we come from, wood-burning fireplaces are for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and, sometimes, when company comes over and we want to look all hearth-y.

But… in the country… wood means our house is warm.

The daffodils are blooming here at HC Farm. This has been an excessively cold winter, and I am holding out for spring. The other day, I said, “We gotta get us a chain saw… because for the price of several truck-loads of wood, we could cut-up about ten downed-trees right on the edge of our 19 Acre Wood. We will pay for the chain saw in no time!”

Chain-sawing is backbreaking work. Hauling chopped wood up a steep mountain hill is hard labor. But, we did it, and no one chopped off their leg. When we piled up the fruits of our sawing… we figured we are worth about ten dollars  an hour ( in Wood Pile Land). Depressing. We are gonna have to make a lot more trips down to those trees before we can pay for this new chain saw.

Hard work is… hard.

And so is raking leaves (When we rake leaves, both my husband and myself morph into 10 year-old grade schoolers. We whine and complain and get grumpy like you would not believe.) and preparing a garden (Easy to dream about all winter and draw up plans and look through seed catalogs…hard to accomplish) and digging up the front sidewalk (I did this today, and I lasted 2.5 hours, and it is still not done).

I’m really missing those three sons (who grew up and flew out of the nest) about now. It is so awesome when your boy turns 12. He is all-about physical labor, and ten dollars will get the job done. We had some really good years with really good help. But, the day comes when you look at each other and say,

“Well, it’s just you and me again.”

Slightly older now..

 

Empty nest problems.

 

 

7.5 Incredible Insider Secrets of Why Cruising Will Rock Your World

I completed my first cruise. I am now (because the internet allows me to self-proclaim whatever I desire.) an expert, an insider, a person who possesses all cruising secrets I now have the authority to tell you cruising will rock your world.

Me, having my world rocked:

I had some pre-cruise fears, of which I had previously written: sea sickness, weight gain, onboard charges, bathing suit, white skin, sun damage, a tsunami, unknowns, bathing suit, and bathing suit.

World Rocker #1:  I am happy to report zero sea sickness. Even though I have cruised exactly one time and (because: internet) I am now an expert, my entire 7 days at sea was smooth sailing. Still… no sea sickness. I wore the sea band the first day, but as I looked around and saw no other cruiser wearing  sea bands, I took them off.

World Rocker #2:  My ship had a walking track. Yay! I think being able to exercise helped me to not feel “stuck on a boat”. Walking several miles daily also whispered in my ear,”You earned that chocolate molten lava cake!” Double yay!

Port Days also helped me to not feel stuck:

World Rocker #3:  It took me a day to figure out the best way to get coffee and whole milk (not creamer in those small plastic things) and how to hoard cereal and milk cartons, in case I needed a midnight snack.( We had a refrigerator in our cabin!) I also watched how other cruisers were doing stuff and, being a college graduate and part-time genius, I figured  out how to keep my expense account to a bare minimum. I’m not a drinker, so this was pretty simple. I did, however, get a bit lax with my Ben and Jerry charges the last two days.

World Rocker #4: The answer to the bathing suit fear: my very stylish cover-up.

White skin: I am very late to the party on using bronzing lotion. It looked super real and was just enough to help my skin out a bit.

I am 99.9% faithful in using sunscreen to protect my skin. A tsunami did  not happen. There was one unknown which I will explain in a minute, and bathing suit, bathing suit… oh well. Added Bonus: I took ZERO selfies and, quite frankly, NO ONE was noticing me.

Except this selfie, I took this one:

World Rocker #5: We made friends with our cabin steward. An experienced cruiser friend had given us a dry erase marker for mirror note writing. We encouraged our cabin steward friend daily (and she encouraged us!) We also tipped her (in addition to the standard pre-paid tip) at the beginning of the week, as well as at the end. All this friendliness worked to my advantage when my diamond earrings, stored stupidly in tissue paper, were thrown away. We called our cabin steward, and she dug through the ship’s trash to retrieve my earrings! Wow.

World Rocker #6:  Private Balcony. It is the only way to cruise. My balcony was peaceful and…well…private. It was the place where I sunned, read, and napped. A true vacation. Being on the top deck was LOUD and way too people-y.

Can’t you just feel the peace:

World Rocker #7: The food in the main dining room was super good. The portions were small, but we could order as many courses as we wanted. The food at the casual buffet was ehhhh, but we only ate there twice. The food in the pay-extra restaurant was definitely worth the splurge. The pay-extra desserts were definitely a notch up from the main dining (5 star for sure). And I give out my stars according to the desserts.

World Rocker #7.5:  Would I go again? Of all the vacation choices in all the world, I would probably choose an active vacation (skiing, bicycle touring, hiking) over cruising.

Look at this amazingly peaceful view:

HOWEVER, was cruising a true vacation? Yes. For this reason alone… cruising will rock your (fast-paced) world. 

I think you should go.

One last beautiful view. (Good-Bye, Jamaica!)

P.S. Yes, I know it is called a “ship” not a “boat”. (Emoji with tongue stuck out.)

P.P.S. We took zero excursions (At least $100 a pop, and, in my “expert” opinion, not worth the price.) We shopped on our port days, ate at the local restaurants, and returned early to the quiet ship. If you like spa treatments, this would have been a good time to snag a good deal.

 

 

(Enjoying the View) I’m Going on a Cruise and I’m Scared Because

Not necessarily in order of fear:

1. Sea Sickness – Car sickness, vertigo, inner ear probz are all realities for me. I have the Sea Band, ginger tea, and will hydrate LOTS. I’m not getting “the patch” because I don’t want a doctor visit in order to get said patch, but I will have plenty of dramamine, both drowsy and non-drowsy.

2. Weight Gain – Too much food talk in regard to cruises. Quite frankly, I only eat one major meal a day. Quite frankly, I have a problem passing by chocolate anything.

3. Onboard Charges – I know I will be super- paranoid about any extra charges. “Is that included?” will be my mantra.

4. Bathing Suit – Really? Does this even need any elaboration?

5. White Skin

6. Sun damage – Can not afford any new sun damage. Period.

7. Tsunami – I am a child of the 70’s. “Poseidon Adventure”.

8. The Unknowns – In my ignorance, I am certain there is more to fear, but I am yet to know what it might be.

9. Bathing Suit – I am a girl who knows my limitations. This is not good. See #2 chocolate.

10.Bathing Suit

Will report back post-cruise.

(Enjoying the View) Snow on the Mountain

January is the BEST Time for Snow
A Snow Walk Around the Farm
I love it so much… for a few days

The Southern girl in me loves an occasional snow. Living in the country makes the snow even more delightful. Cheese dip, chili, soup, coffee, and hot chocolate. However, after a few days, the Southern girl in me is ready for the snow to be on its way.

We had one night of -2 degrees. No words.

The melting has arrived! I am ready to be back to my walking routine and to human-like temperatures again.