Category Archives: Purple Crayon

50 Things I’ve Learned Since 1967

  1. Life is Difficult.
  2. People are complex.
  3. God is in control.
  4. Don’t get into a power struggle with a five year old.
  5. Make peace with routine.
  6. When you’re locked out of the house in your bathrobe, it’s okay to break the window.
  7. Writing 500 words a day is good for your emotional health.
  8. Sleep when the baby sleeps.
  9. There are seasons in life.  Some are harder than others.
  10. Gratitude is a habit you can cultivate.
  11. Guardian angels exist.  Toddlers make them work overtime.
  12. Introverts need to recharge alone.
  13. Eat frogs first thing in the morning.  Everything else will be downhill.
  14. Writing letters is a great antidote for loneliness.
  15. Music feeds the soul.
  16. Solitude is critical.
  17. Every decision is easier when you get on the same page first.
  18. Teamwork is hard.  Good teamwork is rare.
  19. Don’t forget to say “Thank you.”
  20. Put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others.
  21. It’s great to have your Mom there when the new baby comes.                                                                             
  22. Give gifts to the older kids when the new baby comes.
  23. Going to childbirth class helps, but it won’t solve all the problems.
  24. There’s nothing that highlights your own selfishness like marriage.
  25. Many problems can be solved by research, trial and error, and asking the experts.
  26. Take it to the Lord in prayer.
  27. The power to forgive is supernatural.
  28. Invest in friendships.
  29. Pay attention.  Especially if there’s not many other people waiting for your flight.
  30. Plan for down time in your schedule.  It’s essential for your mental health.
  31. A library card is your golden ticket.
  32. Reading solves scads of problems, either by learning something that helps or escaping into a story.
  33. Hold children on your lap when you read to them.
  34. Leadership gives you a bigger audience for your mistakes.
  35. Staff to your weaknesses.
  36. Invite people over who can’t reciprocate.
  37. Celebrate small wins.
  38. Sometimes the hardest person to extend grace to is yourself.  Do it anyway.
  39. Sometimes you have to do it badly.
  40. There are worse vices than chocolate.
  41. There’s hope for the directionally challenged.
  42. As much as it depends on you, be at peace with everyone.
  43. You can’t do more than you can do.
  44. Ask for help.
  45. You can’t go anywhere with one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake.
  46. You can’t steer a parked car.
  47. If you’re the mother of the groom, wear comfortable shoes.
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Five Minute Friday: More

Trying something new today.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and Five Minute Friday.

The prompt today is “more”.

Dave Ramsey had a great answer for a listener who wanted to know what the difference was between ambition and discontentment.

It’s something I’ve wondered about, too.

Dave made the point that selfish ambition is wrong, but ambition that isn’t selfish and doesn’t stem from discontentment is not wrong.

It’s possible to be ambitious for the right reasons and still be content.

Our desire for “more” can get us into trouble.

I guess, just like most of life’s challenges, it all comes back to heart issues.

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Hope for the Directionally Challenged

I have a severe directional disability.

I’ve had some bad experiences lately.  On one occasion, my gas tank was empty, my bladder was full and I was lost.  Not a good combination.  I can hardly describe the relief I felt after making a pit stop to take care of the urgent needs, then turning onto a familiar road that would take me home.

It’s causing me so much stress in my life, I’ve decided to analyze it, to see if I can figure out why I have so many problems and make some improvements.

Some relevant factors:

I don’t know which way is North and South.

I don’t know East and West if it’s night or mid-day.

I often confuse my Right and Left.

I get disoriented easily.

I have massive short term memory failure.

Brain fog.  Yes, that’s a thing.  It’s also a symptom of thyroid disease, so I’ll blame it on that.

I’m a slow learner.

I’m technically challenged.

I need to use reading glasses, which are not always close at hand.

I’m not used to my phone and don’t know how to operate it well.

I have trouble making decisions under pressure.

I drive a stick shift.

I don’t have a bird’s eye view of geography.

I don’t know which direction cities and towns are.

I don’t know where I live in relation to other cities and towns.

I don’t carry a map in the car.

I often forget to charge my phone.

When I print directions I forget to look up a return route.

I’m not used to using google maps on my phone.

After missing a turn or getting lost, turning around can be stressful.

I day dream a lot, especially in the car– riding or driving.

I’m not detail oriented.

I’m not observant.  (Maybe one reason I love Sherlock so much.)

I have trouble with focus and concentration.  My mind wanders faster than a two year old.

This is my life and it isn’t pretty.

Having broken down the components of the necessary skills, there’s some areas I can work on and improve.

Here’s what helps:

1. Doing my homework before I set out.  This is key.  Life is busy.  It’s tempting to think “I’ll figure it out on the way.”  Plus I’m preoccupied with what to wear, what snacks to throw in, what else do I need to bring, who do I need to communicate with and what’s the weather going to be like.   (I do live in Indiana, after all.)

But, if I don’t take enough time to actually study and understand the directions before I leave, I’m setting myself up for a bad experience.

Also, it helps me to take a minute to be mindful about which direction different cities lie  and which direction I’m heading.

I also need to plan a return route.  When you’re severely directionally challenged, you can’t just re-trace your steps.

2. Two sets of directions.  One printed from Maquest, plus Google Maps on my phone.

3. Make a cheat sheet. For me, this means a condensed version of the directions, with all the critical info written in large type.

4. Recharge the phone in the car.  Easy fix.

5. Focus and concentrate at the critical junctures.  During a one hour trip, for insistence, there might be only twenty minutes when concentration is necessary and 40 minutes of smooth sailing.  It’s not necessary to be on hyper alert the whole time.

If you never have a problem getting where you need to go, more power to you!

And three cheers for any analysis that makes life better.

 

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3 Things I Learned, Winter 2017

 

Winter has been screwy this year.

Three years ago, the view from my kitchen window looked like Winter.

This year, not so much.

It’s been a great season for learning new things, though.  I love learning!

  1. Routine can be an idol

“Don’t make an idol of routine” has been echoing in my head since I read it in Jesus Calling a couple of days ago.  Boy, has that been a problem lately.

Today we had a breakfast meeting.  That throws all my morning routines into chaos, unless I am able to get up earlier than normal and get them all in.  Today I wasn’t able to.  So, I skipped most of them.

Even though habits help me so much, I  have a problem being consistent.  I fall off the bandwagon over and over and over.  Right now, I’m not exercising.  I’m hit and miss doing my 3 minute mail purge every morning, even though those two things are good for me.

We haven’t had family night for the past three weeks.  This sends me into a tail spin.  I didn’t realize how much I depended on having one relaxing night every week.

  Buy now from Amazon

So, have I made an idol of routine?  Even when I’m not good at keeping up with habits that are good for me?  When I’m trying to accept and deal with unforeseen circumstances? Or unavoidable scheduling issues that prevent me from following through on routines?  I don’t know.  It’s hard to let go.  It’s also hard to push myself to be consistent.  So, I don’t really know where I stand on this.  But, I do know it’s a struggle for me and one that causes me stress.

Also, just like money can be an idol, whether you have it or not, routine can be an idol whether you have it or not.  Brand new thought for me.

2. Writing 500 words a day is good for my emotional health

Last Fall, I took on the challenge to write 500 words a day.  This method of writing intersperses all my random thoughts, pre-writing and self-talk along with some deeper, more profound thoughts. You have to sort through the fluff to get to the nuggets.

Focused writing is good for blog posts.  But, getting down all the random thoughts is good for my emotional health.

Another thing I learned was the importance of separating  my writing (drafting) time from my blogging (editing, formatting, pictures and promoting) time.  I need time for both every day.

Even more of a breakdown than that.  Journaling is a different activity than drafting blog posts, though they do tend to overlap and influence each other.

Also, brainstorming is a completely different activity. I need time for that, too, but it’s not necessarily something I need every day.  It could happen once a week.

3. The definition of grit

Grit= passion + perseverance

This definition comes from Angela Duckworth’s book Grit: the Power of Passion and Perseverence .

I checked this book out as an ebook from the library.  I was maybe a third of the way through when the book came due and disappeared from my Kindle.  But, the definition of grit stay with me.

The author proposes that grit is a better predictor of success than IQ.  I see her point.  I need to check it out again and finish the book.

There’s scads of things I’m learning right now, but I’m having a harder than usual time synthesizing and articulating them.

So, I’ll leave it there for now.

Linking up with Emily Freeman and other bloggers sharing what we’ve learned.

What have you learned? 

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase goes to support this site.)

 

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3 Great Podcasts for Book Lovers

Read Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackensie

Read Aloud Revival features great children’s literature, young adult lit as well as author interviews.  Their mission is to help you build your family culture around books.  Everything connected with the Read Aloud Revival is a high quality production.

The podcast often lasts about an hour and is ad free.  There is also a membership site with access to more shows and events.  It’s a great resource for homeschoolers, teachers, librarians and anyone who loves children’s lit.

What Should I Read Next? with Anne Bogel

Novels for adults is the forte of What Should I Read Next?  But, there is also a smattering of memoir, young adult, children’s lit,  and non-fiction.  Anne typically interviews one guest and asks them for three books they love, one book they hate and what they’re reading now.  Then she gives them recommendations about books she thinks will match their tastes.

The strength of the show is hearing not only the basic premise for good books, but also emotional reactions and reading experiences as well.  That gives readers a lot more to judge a book on rather than just other readers’ reviews.

Getting to know guests a little during the interview also helps listeners decide how similar their reading tastes are to the guest on the hot seat.

Read to Lead Podcast with Jeff Brown

The Read to Lead Podcast is aimed at business leaders.   It’s a high quality podcast.  Every episode that I’ve listened to has interesting guests and Jeff does a good job with interviews.  I’d recommend it to anyone with an interest in good books related to productivity, business and leadership.

If you’re new to podcasts . . . 

they can take a little getting used to.  (Warning: They can get addictive! ) You can listen to them on your computer, which is what I usually do.  You can also download them onto a device.  That makes them perfect for exercise time, going for a walk or commuting.

 

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Go Ahead, Rouse that Mama Bear

bears

I saw it in my sister this week.  She had to go up against the experts on behalf of her child.  It wasn’t a fight she was looking for or one that she relished.  She got all “Mama Bear” because her daughter needed an advocate.

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase will go to support this site.)

I’ve had to play the role occasionally myself.  It’s the needs of kids that propels moms into the unnatural state of fighter.

Before we had kids, my husband thought he would be up with the babies at night because I slept like a rock.  He had to drag me out of bed during a five point something earthquake aftershock because I slept through it.

But, after the birth of our first baby, the slight sound of an infant in distress was enough to wake me.  Of course, we all sleep on alert when listening for an alarm clock for fear of sleeping through it.  But, I believe it goes deeper than that.  That miraculous maternal instinct.  That sleeping mama bear that is roused in time of need.

We watched the movie, Miracles from Heaven last weekend.  I was so intrigued by the story I had to read the book to find out what was true and what was Hollywood.  (Read my book review here.)  Christy Wilson Beam, the mother in the story had to go up against the doctors on behalf of her daughter when they weren’t taking her symptoms seriously.  She referred to herself as Mama Bear when she had to fight to get the medical help her daughter needed.

What is it that turns mild-mannered mamas into to fighters?  I guess if you look at nature, it’s anything that threatens the well-being of the off-spring.  In our lives today, sometimes it’s the experts. They may know their field, but mamas know their kids.

 

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What’s Saving My Life Right Now

Mindful gratitude gives me perspective.

It’s easy and natural for me to focus on the negative.

I’m thankful for the practice of pausing to be grateful.

Joining other bloggers on Modern Mrs Darcy who are sharing their life-savers.

What’s Saving My Life 2016 

500 Words a Day

I got the idea from Jeff Goins.  He says to be a writer you have to write.  The man has a keen sense of the the obvious.  His point is: be consistent.  Five hundred words a day.  Every day.  So I took the challenge.  I determined at that pace, plus a little more, I could write 50,000 words in three months.  Amazingly, I hit that goal.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the coliseum.  I was writing more and blogging less.  How is that possible?  I used up my time and energy getting my 500 words down and spent very little time editing, polishing, choosing photos, posting and promoting.  So, this quarter, I’m spending another 20 minutes a day doing those things while still drafting 500 words a day.

In order to get 500 words a day recorded in as short as time as possible, I was just “brain dumping”— stream of consciousness writing, without  focus or a plan.  I’m shifting this strategy a little to be more productive to write something that’s worth editing, polishing and posting.

Here’s the thing:  writing 500 words a day on whatever comes into my head has been good for my emotional health.  I don’t want to lose that.  It’s been a slow realization over that past few years that I NEED to write.  I don’t even necessarily need to be read.  It’s the way I process.  The way I make sense of things.  Once in a while I churn out something that helps someone besides myself.

There you go.

500 words a day is saving my life.

Ah, the therapy of fingers on the keyboard, thoughts untangled, conclusions that bring peace. 

 

Best of 2016 Book Lists

I admit it.

I’m a fiction snob.

It’s hard for me to find novels I love.  So, I scour the book lists, always on the prowl for wholesome novels, brilliantly written.  Sometimes I strike gold.

I did another round up this year of my favorite Best of 16 Book Lists.  This is a survival strategy for me.  I need great books like I need air, so I’m highly motivated to find them.

Crash Course in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis by Dr. Wentz

Izabella Wentz, PharmD., the Thyroid Pharmacist.

Last year I discovered I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  I searched the web for advice, hoping to avoid medication.

Izabella’s website has been the most helpful.

I cut out gluten from my diet.  I added some supplements— vitamin D, vitamin B12, selenium, zinc plus a daily multi-vitamin.  My migraines have all but disappeared.  I think my energy levels are up, but it’s hard to gage.  My face doesn’t break out as long as I’m taking zinc supplements.

I know one thing:  It feels good to be feeling better.  I’m thankful for Izabella.

The bottom line is bloggers are saving my life.

I am grateful.

What’s Saving Your Life?

What’s Saving My Life, 2016 edition

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The Ties That Bind: Understanding the MK Connection

mkconnection

A classmate of mine is no longer walking this earth.

I feel the loss deeply.

I wonder for the umpteenth time why the bonds between third culture kids are so strong.  After all, it’s been decades since we shared a campus.  Only a small fraction of my life was spent building friendships in that arena.  And, yet, the impact is inexplicably profound.

I’ve pondered it again this week as I have before.   But, this time, I’ve come to some new conclusions.

The pyschological explanation is that we all met during impressionable, vulnerable years when our identities were in formation. We all experienced two or more cultures and were trying to decide which culture we personally identified with.  “Who am I?”  just became more complicated.  And here we are surrounded by a group facing this same challenge.

Most of us were not living in our passport country and far from extended family.  Into that vacuum emerges a third culture.  A group of expats on the same journey.  Kindred spirits who knew what it was like to be transplanted.  To be dropped into an island of English speakers surrounded by foreign languages, food and ways.  In this context, we struggle to answer the questions: Who am I?  Which culture will I choose?  Who are my people? Where is my tribe?  Where do I belong and how do I get there?

Those same fundamental questions we were all facing and answering, mostly oblivious to the process, but mindful that we were not alone.

The spiritual explanation took me by surprise.  I woke up one morning with verses from Mark 10 on my mind.  “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel, who will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age  (houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields– and with them  persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.”

The bonds are strong, the connection is deep because Jesus promised to provide family to those who had given up family.  He hard-wired the bonds to be stronger than passing friendships.  Many in that expat community were missionaries.  They had made sacrifices for the sake of the gospel.  Jesus promised to recompense those sacrifices.  Not only in the life to come, but in this life as well.  Inexplicable.

Related posts:

When Your Family Tree is Grafted

The Itch I Couldn’t Reach

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What I’ve Learned, July 2016: Night and Day, Change is Hard

NightandDay

Morning Tasks and Evening Tasks Make a Difference of Night and Day

In the ongoing drama to manage my life, it’s recently become clear to me the difference been morning tasks and evening tasks.

Really, managing my life isn’t a matter of managing my time.  It’s a matter of managing my energy.  It’s even more complicated than that, though.  It also has to do with managing my will power and my finite decision making ability.

Case in point:  processing mail at home.  At the end of the work day, my energy, my will power and my decision making ability were all depleted.  I couldn’t face sorting through the mail every evening so it would stack up, day after day.

Not until I switched that to a morning task–one that took 3 minutes or less daily, was I able to get on top of the paper clutter piled up in my kitchen that resulted from incoming mail. It made a night and day difference.  Ha.

Pairing that three minutes with a task I did every morning–cooking breakfast–meant I had a mental trigger every morning that reminded me it was time to process mail.  I found turning the heat down under my eggs down and setting the stove timer for three minutes worked well.  In three minutes or less I could pitch the junk, file the kids’ mail and prepare bills for payment.

Granted, I’m in a stage in my life when I’m not fixing breakfast for the family any more.  It’s every man for himself at our house at breakfast time.  I also fix eggs for my breakfast almost every morning.  This plan would still work with oatmeal in the microwave.

eggsinironskillet

I could beat myself up for not figuring this out till I was 49, but I’ll give myself a break.  During the time we lived in Mexico, we didn’t have regular mail delivery.  There was lots of other stuff to adjust to, but daily mail processing wasn’t included.

That’s more than you wanted to know about my routines, but I’ve found other people’s experience helps me.  Maybe you’ll find this helpful.  I love figuring myself and my life out and making things work better.

On the flip side, exercising consistently in the evening is working for me.  I’m shocked.  I figured the depleted will power would work against me.  I don’t know if it’s the summer schedule or what, but it’s actually working.  Go figure.

uphillclimb

Change is an Uphill Climb

Every time I try to implement change in my life, I learn something whether I succeed or fail.  Here’s a few insights I’ve gained recently:

  • Disappointments are closely tied to expectations.
  • It’s hard to set realistic goals.
  • Sixty six times in a row to establish a habit.  Not 21.
  • Trying to implement too much at once causes loss of focus.
  • Gaining insight into yourself is always a win
  • Don’t forget to reward yourself.  (I do, a lot)penguins
  • Celebrate the small wins.
  • When you’re making progress in one area, don’t beat yourself up for areas you can’t concentrate on.
  • Setting yourself up to win is critical.  Understand what your obstacles are.  Work to get the people around you on board.
  • Be patient.  There’s lots of time to implement slow change.
  • Don’t lose heart.  This is one of my hubby’s theme songs.  He doesn’t get discouraged very often and he repeatedly reminds others not to lose heart.

I’m about to launch into the umpteenth “life improvement plan” .

Gonna take my own advice to heart.

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What I’ve Learned: My Family Tree is Grafted and Going Slow

Linking up with Emily Freeman to share what I’ve learned this month.

Love the slower pace of a summer schedule.  Less rushing.  More time to catch up with people.  Best of all, more time for uninterrupted reading and more time for ruminating. I could get used to this.

graftedfamilyappletree

The discoveries I make while writing are its own reward.

It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve realized I have to write to make sense out of my life.  I had one of those moments this week when a phrase echoed in my brain.  It made me ponder the unique friendships we forged during the sixteen years we spent with a non-profit assigned to Mexico.  I puzzled through it for days and it finally became the post When Your Family Tree is Grafted.

It’s gratifying and satisfying to analyze and come to some conclusions: to articulate the fuzzy, to make sense of my convoluted life.

shoes

How to Make Exercise a Daily Habit.

There’s SO much I want to accomplish.  There’s SO many areas in my life I want to improve.  It’s hard to slow down and only focus on  one area at a time.

During the Spring months, I was frustrated that my exercise routine was hit and miss.  I was focusing on my morning routine.  Now that exercise is becoming a daily habit, I’m frustrated with lack of consistency in blogging.  Patience. Patience.  It’s hard to go slow.

Taking small bites is critical to my success.  I do a 15 minute walking video every day.  That’s small.  Believe it or not, the very difficult, but critical element was deciding when in the day to do it.  It finally came down to after supper.  This is challenging when we have evening plans– it either happens late at night or in the afternoon before meal prep.

My mornings were too unpredictable to add another daily habit.

And so, it’s working.  Due in part to our summer schedule. Due in part to focus and willingness to let other things slide. Thank God for small wins.

turtle

What have you learned this month?

 

 

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