Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nutrition, Spirit-Style

I've long been a Max Lucado fan, and I especially appreciate Grace for the Moment, a wonderful little book that packs a punch via a devotion for each day of the year. Yesterday's devotion was one of the many that stood out to me.

The devotion for October 29 begins with Jeremiah 29:11, a verse that I have turned to again and again in the past 5+ years. Knowing that God promised, "I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you" comforts me even when I can't see any good in my current circumstances.

Lucado goes on to tell about a family devotional time in which he put a variety of food options -- fruit, veggies, cookies -- in the center of the table, called his daughters to join him, and gave them each a plate. He explained that every day God "prepares for us a plate of experiences." He then asked his girls to put the food on their plate that represented the type of experiences they preferred to have.

I know I'm supposed to eat a healthy diet, and I've come a long way in that department. But if we're talking about what kind of experiencewe would prefer to have on any given day, I'm with Lucado's daughter Sara. I'm grabbing the cookies!

Of course, God doesn't put just a pile of cookies on our plate day after day after day. As Lucado points out, some days our plate is filled with cookies, some days are filled with cookies, fruit, and veggies, and on some days He fills our plate with veggies. Not even a little cup of dip or Ranch dressing. Just veggies.

I pondered this devotional as I drove to work, during down time at work, and then again as I drove back home. I acknowledged immediately that God -- like an earthly parent -- knows far better than His children what they need in their lives. I'm an English teacher -- I get the metaphor. :)

But almost immediately after I identified the symbolism, I heard a voice asking, "And what do you do when you get that plate of veggies? How do you react?"

And that, to me at least, is the crucial question.

Do I whine and cry and beg for a banana split and pout when it isn't forthcoming -- immediately? I must admit I sometimes do.

Do I pitch a fit and stalk away from the table? Yes, I've done that a time or two in the past five years.

Do I look at what is on other people's plates and envy them their Snickerdoodles? Sadly, I do that sometimes, too.

Do I ignore the veggies that will help me grow and become stronger and fantasize about the scrumptious treats I enjoyed yesterday or hope to have tomorrow? Of course, I have.

Do I look to my Father and thank Him for what He has given me and then enjoy those veggies to the very best of my ability? Not often enough.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Creating Porn (Dream Save Do, week 6)

Now that -- "porn" -- isn't a word I use often, and I never dreamed I'd be typing it in a blog-entry headline, much less creating it! But, of course, I did the former just now, and I began doing the latter two days ago. But wait, let me explain.

If you've been following my Dream Save Do journey (a la Dream Save Do: An Action Plan for Dreamers by Betsy & Warren Talbot), you know I've been s-l-o-w-l-y working my way through the dreaming stage and that last week I put into words what my dream-redesigned life will (notice that I'm using positive verbs) entail.

This past week I was ready to move on to the next step in the Dream Save Do Process. The Talbots, like many other motivational writers, urge those who have a goal to create a visual reminder of what they're shooting for. But no sticky notes on the bathroom mirrors, dashboard of the car, and edge of the computer screen for the Warrens!

Instead, they instruct their readers to create dream porn -- a "big motivator, the reminder you place in a prominent space to keep your goal front and center".

The Talbots, for example, wanted to travel the world, so one of the things they did was find a large world map, similar to the roll-up maps we've all seen hanging from hooks above the chalkboard in various elementary and high school classrooms. They plotted out possible routes and then learned about the various places they hoped to visit.

Because I can access Pinterest anywhere I have a computer or my iphone or ipad,  I decided to create a Pinterest board called "Dream Porn". Bright and early Friday morning, I sat down at my dining room table with a cup of Earl Gray tea and my lap top, and I spent an absolutely delightful hour or so creating a piece of visual dream porn (now that I've begun using that term, I can't seem to stop -- lol).

It's a work in progress, of course, and I'll add and delete things as I go along, but already my newly-created board has proven to be a positive motivator. I took a screen shot and changed my screen saver to that image, and every time I walk by my laptop (sitting out in the open on my dining room table), I feel a little thrill to actually see what I'm dreaming of.

It's even helped me resist temptation! Last night I had a strong urge to get out of the house, and I decided I'd hop in the car and get a milkshake and read a book while sitting at Sonic. As I passed by the computer to get my purse, I saw my screen saver and reminded myself that every $3 I save takes me $3 closer to living my dream life. Instead of picking up my purse, I picked up Dazey's leash and took her for a walk. Instead of drinking a milkshake alone in my car, we walked over to the sand volleyball courts and watched a few games before heading back home.

In addition to the visual inspiration of the large map, the Talbots learned to cook exotic foods, listened to music from other cultures, watched foreign films, and learned a foreign language (Spanish) in order to create sensory reminders of their ultimate goal.

While I knew how to create a visual reminder, I had no idea how I might create sensory motivators. Fortunately, the Talbots provide a wonderful explanation and numerous examples of ways to use the five senses in creating an atmosphere today that will inspire the reader to reach their dream in the future.

This week I plan to continue working on my Dream Porn Pinterest board and figure out some ways to create motivators and reminders that appeal to the other four senses. I can't wait to share with you what I come up with!

If you are interested in working through the Dream Save Do process to determine if how you're living is how you really want to live and, if not, how to make that desired lifestyle your reality, I urge you to get your own copy of Betsy and Warren Talbot's wonderful book Dream Save Do: An Action Plan for Dreamers.

Also, I'm not quite ready to publish the porn I created, so I've designated that board "private". However, I will be making it public later this week, so I hope you'll follow me on Pinterest and, after you've looked at the board, let me know what you think.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Dare

I'm very excited again this week to join a talented group of women bloggers in an online, unedited flash mob free write. This week, the word-prompt given to us by our fearless leader Kate Motaung (whose wonderful blog can be found at is "long". My timer is set for 5 minutes; ready, set,

The only dare I can remember ever responding to came from a college friend a weekend that found four of us traveling to her parents' cabin on Kentucky Lake. The dare? To go skinny-dipping off the dock one night under a full moon. I still remember how wonderful the cool lake water felt on my skin and how daring I felt. Me, a nice young Lutheran girl, swimming in the lake in nothing but my birthday suit. How outrageous!

Oh, how I long to dare to do something outrageous now. I am, hopefully, still nice. Definitely, still a Lutheran. My days as a girl more than a few years behind me.

But still. I long to do something outrageous.

To walk away from a situation in which I feel disrespected.

To sell or donate even more of the things I own.

To downsize to an even-cozier home.

To totally change my lifestyle.

The practical little creature sitting on my left shoulder whispers to me. "You need to be responsible. You need to be prepared for retirement, and time is running out. You must have health insurance. And besides, what will people think? Your kids will have you committed!"

But oh how enticing is that adorable imp on perched on my right shoulder, how tempting her words, "Do it. Strip off everything that stifles you. Dive in."

A Dream Defined (Dream Save Do, week 5 part 2)


In fits and starts as life has allowed, I've slowly been working through the *dream* portion of the Dream Save Do process, and I'm happy to share that I've defined my dream.

Well, almost.

Some elements of the life I long to live are crystal clear. Time with my son and daughter is paramount.

A church home in the truest sense of the term.


A close circle of friends who get together regularly -- you know, the type that appears in almost every chick-lit book. A larger group of interesting friends and acquaintances. An active social life made up of a variety of activities -- an afternoon at a local winery, morning get-togethers at Starbucks, line-dancing class, hikes in state and national parks, etc.

My dream life includes a healthy lifestyle and diet, as well as weekly yoga classes and trips to the gym with a friend or two.

Opportunities and time for creativity are also a large part of the life I hope to live. While writing (blog and books) are very important, other creative outlets are also important.

Less car-dependence and the use of safe, clean public transportation, my own two feet, or my bicycle instead.

Even less "stuff". More experiences.

A vintage camper -- oh, how I'd love to own a Shasta with wings -- and weekend camping trips.

Work that is rewarding, creative, and uplifting in an environment that is positive and in which everyone is respected and treated with dignity. A place in which work is honored.

A debt-free, frugal lifestyle.

On or near the ocean or a large lake in an area that enjoys a moderate climate -- or at least is free of harsh winters.

A small cottage or a carriage house or possibly even a "tiny house".  Very little upkeep and no mowing! :)

That much I know.

What is not so clear to me is the "where". I spent quite a bit of time obsessing about where I want to live, but suddenly one day, I realized that when all -- or even most -- of the other components are in place, it won't matter where I am.

And there you have it. The place my mind goes when it wanders.

Monday, October 20, 2014

What's Holding Me Back? (Discovering My Dreams, week 5)

The past month or so has been difficult, even without the illness and passing of my mother-in-law, and more than once, I've been very close to --  on the very verge of, actually -- speaking words that would initiate a major life change.

I'm weary.

I decided yesterday to take an hour or two off from getting caught up around the house. I grabbed my ipad mini, drove to Starbucks and picked up a venti Chai Tea Latte and a chocolate chip cookie, and drove to a spot where I could gaze at the Missouri River, read if the mood struck, and relax.

I sat there in my cozy cocoon (aka the sun-warmed driver's seat of my Prius) for almost 2 hours. While the Missouri flowed swiftly by, I read and watched bike riders and families of walkers go by. Much of the time, my mind was wandering lazily. What in my life causes me sorrow or distress? What could I do to bring positive change? Nothing new. The same questions that I've been pondering for months now. And I received the same answers.

Yesterday, though, I moved oh so close to making a decision. I thought the words. They lingered, tantalizingly close, and whispered in my ear.

And I was so tempted. Tempted to say the words that have been at the periphery of my brain for several months. But I didn't voice them. Oh, I know nobody would have heard me, that saying the words wouldn't commit me to the action. Yet something held me back.

So what did  keep me from saying the words? What keeps me from making a decision and acting on it?

I'm not too proud to admit that one factor -- a very large factor, in fact -- is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of what others who I care about would say, fear of the practical ramifications. Fear of making such a momentous decision on my own and having no-one to share the blame with if it's a flaming disaster.

Complacency is, without a doubt, another factor. I may not be overjoyed with some aspects of my current situation, but I know this situation, and I know how to deal with it. I have dealing with it down pat and can pretty much do it on autopilot. A major change would require major adjustments, and I'm just not ready to sign on for that. Not yet.

Lack of clarity is an issue as well. I've taken steps forward without knowing exactly what the consequences would be more than a few times in my life, but I was younger, more resilient, and I had a strong support system that I could count on if my action proved to be even a major misstep. Those who made up my support system have passed away, and now others depend on me to at least some degree. Stepping away from what I have to the unknown is much more intimidating in my present circumstances.

Also stopping me is the uncertainty as to whether or not the decision is coming from the right place. I want to make sure that instead of simply running away from something I don't like, I'm moving toward something that is the right thing for me.

I finally made a decision. My latte gone, my cookie nothing more than a few crumbs, I settled on a plan. I'm going to move forward as if I've made the decision, but without making it.

Early this morning, I made a list of every task I would need to complete if I actually committed to the change I'm contemplating, and I created a timetable for accomplishing each task. More importantly, though, I prayed about the situation, and I'm going to keep praying.

I'm confident that the answer will become apparent. Doors will either open, or they'll remain firmly closed. Either way, I'll move forward in faith and, I hope, peace.


What about you? If you've identified what you would like to do, what keeps you from doing it? What's holding you back? I hope you'll take some time this week to relax with a special treat in a beautiful spot and think about what you want and what you have to do to get there. I hope, too, that you'll share your thoughts . . . either through a comment here or via an email to me at

Friday, October 17, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Long

I'm very excited again this week to join a talented group of women bloggers in an online, unedited flash mob free write. This week, the word-prompt given to us by our fearless leader Kate Motaung (whose wonderful blog can be found at is "long". My timer is set for 5 minutes; ready, set,


I have to admit that when I saw this week's word, I almost didn't participate. "Long"? I just didn't have a clue what to write. Where to start.

"Long" can be a verb, of course. What do I long for? More time with my son and daughter, more peace with my work situation, a new job in a new town with a better climate (to me, better is more moderate), a stronger & more personal relationship with my Lord and Savior, a close group of friends to do things with on a regular basis, toned arms (no more bat wings), personal peace.

"Long: can also be an adjective relating to time. What things do I long (sorry, couldn't resist) to be long? Walks on the beach, visits with my children, a healthy lifespan for my children and for myself, talks with close friends, time to write, time away from my job.

How else can "long" be used?  Hmmmm . . .

Oh, it can also be an adjective in respect to the length of something. Hmm . . . oh, I'd love for some of my favorite books with my favorite characters to be longer. I hate to lay them down, to leave my friends on a shelf. My hair. Every time I get it almost to the length I want, it drives me crazy and I impetuously have it cut . . . again. But growing it out is only 1/2 of the issue -- I need to know how to fix it once I get there. lol

Now I know how my students feel when, for a free write session to start off class, I give them a word they struggle with. Will the 5 minutes ever end? Please . . . tick, tock. I long for the timer to

And mercifully, it did . . . the timer buzzed, and I could stop. This was a long (once again, I couldn't resist) 5 minutes for me. :)


Monday, October 13, 2014

Benefits of a Back Burner (Discovering my Dreams, week 4)

For the past 4 weeks, I've put everything possible on the back burner, dealing only with what absolutely had to be done in an effort to free up time to make trips to my in-laws', the hospital, etc. While I missed blogging and working on my book, this time away from both (among other things like housework, which I definitely didn't miss) proved to be beneficial.

Just as I often have what I consider my most profound (and I'm using that term very loosely) thoughts when I'm laying in bed trying to go to sleep or doing some mindless chore, I spent much of every 4-hour round trip "back home" letting my mind roam free.

Similarly, because my mother-in-law slept more and more as the days passed, I spent much of my visits sitting by her bedside knitting and simply letting my mind  wander.

And, quite honestly, spending time in my in-laws' home, full of 55+ years' accumulation of stuff -- literally hundreds of knick-knacks scattered through the 3-bedroom house, drawers and closets full of quilts, dresser drawers full of photographs and negatives still in the envelope they were placed in at the store, etc. -- was also helpful.

In short, the past 3 weeks have even solidified even more my desire to make radical changes in my lifestyle and convinced me that I am on the right track as I work through the Dream Save Do process.

While I've fallen almost-completely off schedule and am behind in all my projects, I know that this 3-week hiatus was merely a bump in the road. I'm even more determined than ever to move forward, and I feel a sense of renewal and invigoration.

I'm ready to take things off the back burner, turn up the heat, and make things happen!


I shared here almost 2 months ago that my mother-in-law had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Sadly, she passed away 7 weeks to the day after her diagnosis, on October 3. Thankfully, she was spared the extreme pain that usually accompanies pancreatic cancer, and she passed away in her home, surrounded by her very-loving husband, sons, daughter-in-laws, grandchildren, sisters & brothers, and sisters- and brothers-in-law. She was a wonderful, Godly woman who was a blessing to everyone she encountered, and she will be sorely missed. 

Thank you for your prayers and for your compassionate support through comments and/or emails. I shared with my mother-in-law that people I knew via facebook and this blog were praying for her, and she was very touched and grateful. She asked me to tell you "thank you", and so . . . thank you from the bottom of my heart.