3 Things I Learned, Summer 2017

Linking up with Emily P. Freeman to share what we’ve learned this summer.

In August we celebrated thirty years of marriage with a week at the lake with the kids.

Thirty years is a long time.

That’s a lot of days.  It’s a lot of hours.

I’ll be the first person to admit that clocking 30 years doesn’t necessarily make you an expert. Scads of people who’ve been around the block didn’t learn anything on the trip.

For what it’s worth, here’s what I learned for making it to 30:

Keep re-negotiating your marriage and extend grace.

Having lived the past 30 years with a lot of upheaval and transitions on top of the normal phases of life, I’m more sensitive to the need for constant re-negotiation.

Getting on the same page can be difficult. Melding two personalities to head the same direction takes a lot of negotiation. We’ve made some big changes geographically and culturally in our marriage. With each change, we have to re-negotiate our marriage. It’s not easy.

Also, I don’t think you can make it to 30 years without heaping helpings of grace and forgiveness. There will be hurts and offenses. There has to be grace in equal measure. It might take an act of God.

“I just want my kids to be happy” is not a helpful parenting philosophy

It’s amazingly pervasive, though.

Sometimes what the kids need most will not make them happy.  Take immunizations, for example.  Or eating vegetables.  Or going to bed.

In order to be happy, your kids might just want pizza and french fries. But you know that’s not what’s best for them. What’s best for them is eating vegetables. And they might not like it at first, but they will develop a taste for it.

The same is true for many things, including doing dishes and doing laundry.

Our kids are independent, responsible young adults. And they’ve adopted the values that matter most to us. Our friendships with them bring us joy.

Tweaking my morning routines has made a huge difference for me.

Keeping up with paper clutter is one of the huge struggles of my life and just dealing with the mail at home every day was overwhelming. The bottom line is that it’s not that hard to handle.

But, the critical element for me was realizing that I couldn’t handle it in the evening. I was processing the mail in 3 minutes every morning while my eggs were cooking. That went well except for the mornings when my husband made breakfast or I didn’t eat eggs. A few slips and I fell off the bandwagon.

I was able to re-start with two minor tweaks. I process the mail for 2 minutes every morning while I heat my water for a hot drink (lemon, hot water and stevia to help deal with Hashimoto’s).

This is working.

There’s something about micro-habits that makes them easier. Knowing that it’s only two minutes helps. In the morning, I haven’t succombed to decision fatigue and the process is possible (even easy) instead of overwhelming.

It’s amazing to me that such little changes can make such a huge difference. It’s fun to figure out what works.

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Neighbor

It’s Friday!  Where did the week go?

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday community.

This week’s prompt is : neighbor

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Who is my neighbor?

Jesus was asked the question.

Maybe the need of humanity was just too overwhelming.

Maybe it paralyzes us to see the enormity of human need and realize we’re not up to the task.

So, instead of doing the little we can, we do nothing.

Maybe what Jesus was teaching in the story of the Good Samaritan is that your neighbor is the one in your path that is desperate for help.

You don’t have to worry about everyone. Of course you can’t meet the needs of everyone.

Just one.

Just the one in your path. With the resources that you have.

Just today.

Just one.

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3 Ways Global Nomads Find Community

One of the greatest challenges for gobal nomads is finding community.

Connecting with others is difficult for the nomad because not everyone understands his life. Finding kindred spirits takes more effort and probably isn’t the person living next door.

Another factor is the taste of community that the nomad has already experienced. He’s trying to replicate that in another context and finds it doesn’t work.

There’s also the matter of personal identity. With which culture does he most identify? Where’s his tribe? If he’s a fish out of water, where can he find some water?

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

There are three ways to face this challenge.

1. Embrace Imperfect Communities Right Where You Are

Geography is a critical factor.

It’s natural to cling to a community that grew in another part of the world. With Sykpe, Facebook, What’s App and internet phones it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with people all over the planet.

Technology is amazing, except when it keeps you from connecting to people where you actually live.

The community that you plug into in the new place will not measure up. Push yourself to do it anyway.

2. Re-connect With Former Tribes

Reunions are important.

When you’ve logged a significant portion of your life with a tribe, it’s good to re-connect and catch up.

Last week, we went to the funeral of a mentor from a decade ago.  We shared a meal with former colleagues.  Because our lives intertwined so closely with these people in the past, years of separation melted away.

The same thing happened at a wedding in May.

Doing life with these people has marked us indelibly.

We need to touch base or we lose a part of who we are.

3. Create Your Own Culture

Establish traditions, celebrate holidays, eat the ethnic foods.

Marry someone who sees the value in preserving observances and ritual.

Create a family culture that incorporates  world cultures.

Influence churches, clubs and schools to reflect values and traditions you want to perpetuate.

Of course, these efforts are fluid. They will only last for a season if someone else doesn’t pick them up and carry them on.

But, the encouraging fact remains that the nomad isn’t doomed to a lifelong search for community: he can create it.

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The best book I’ve read this year about globe-trotting and the search for belonging is Tsh Oxenreider’s book At Home in the World.  Tsh and her husband took their three children and circled the globe. The book traces their journey as well as Tsh’s reflections on travel, life and personal growth.

  Buy now from Amazon

Five Minute Friday: Guide

It’s Friday!  Grateful to be digging out of the piles that accumulate during busy, stressful times. It’s been a good week.

Linking up again with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday crew.

Writing this week on the prompt word: guide.

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The first thing that comes to mind is Gandalf.

Then, a winding, disappearing path in the forest.

You can’t make it without Gandalf there to guide you. And sometimes, you can’t even see him.

The reality is that we don’t know the path ahead.

My good friend lost her husband to cancer in June. She didn’t know ten years ago or five years ago or even last year at this time what the path would look like today.

It’s hard to trust when you can’t see ahead. When you can’t even see the guide.

You are forced to bank on your rock solid beliefs: that God is there, that He is in control and that He is good.

Even when you can’t see the path.

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Five Minute Friday: Speak

It’s Friday!  Another stressful week at work, but I think we’re finally gaining traction.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday community.

This week’s prompt is: speak

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I’ve often heard that one of the most common phobias is public speaking.

I get it.  There’s been a few times when I’ve actually wanted to speak, but most often I’m reticent.

I think if I had a burning passion that I wanted to communicate, it would be easier.

Actually, I have a lot of burning passions, but none that are focused and well-articulated.  Plus, they tend to migrate depending on what’s happening in my life and what’s influencing me at the moment.

Overall, I prefer written communication to spoken.  But, most speeches are written, so the mediums do overlap.

Fear to put your words out there transcends all forms of communications.

I’d say a percentage of that fear is healthy and keeps us from saying what we shouldn’t.  Most of it, though, is just a stumbling block that prevents us from connecting with people.

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What I’m Reading, August 2017

This month has been stressful, in spite of the fact that we took a week’s vacation with the kids to celebrate our thirtieth anniversary.

I am thankful for the chance to get away and build stronger relationships and store away good memories.

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy’s August QuickLit.

Camino Island by John Grisham

The story begins with a theft of rare manuscripts from a university library.

Then we’re taken to a Florida bookshop and an undercover operation to recover the manuscripts.

John Grisham’s stories are easy to read. You can figure out the characters and stay with the plot without a lot of work, even if you’re stressed.

I’m not sure I would have noticed that, except that I heard him say something about not introducing more than 5 new characters in the first few chapters.

There’s some elements I didn’t like about Camino Island. I might not be reading John Grisham any more, since I seem to be growing an increasing sensitivity to those elements.

I wish I could combine the strengths of some authors with others.

It was interesting to see a story about the bookselling world, even if it was cheapened by taudry scenes.

The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston

It took 100 pages for this story to really get good. But, when it did, I was hooked.

Who can resist the search for a lost city? There’s quite an appeal to explore virgin territory, untouched by human hands for centuries, but yet once a thriving civilization.

The book took a left turn for the last fourth and covered tropical diseases, almost leaving archeology in the dust. I found the information interesting, but it certainly wasn’t where I was expecting the book to go.

A Place of Refuge by K. M. Gross

The story is set in Montana and revolves around Dani, a young woman escaping an abusive relationship and Matt, who’s dealing with grief and loss.

A Place a Refuge is recommended for young readers, say 12-16. I liked the moral tone of the book.

Kudos to the author for her debut novel.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

The Kitchen House traces several decades of whites and blacks during slavery in the South.

I can’t really say I liked the story line. Like the author herself said, it has some disturbing elements.

But, the story is compelling. Tragic, really, what the people of the time endured. The twisted and convoluted relationships. The evil that existed. The foundational beliefs that paved the way for so much that was twisted and convoluted.

It wasn’t graphic, given the nature of the subject matter.

Unfortunately, it rings true.  If you really want to understand the times, you have to understand the undercurrent that runs through the story.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Orphan Train traces two orphans: a girl from modern times and one from the early 1900s. It’s interesting to see how the philosophy of orphan care has changed in this country, especially knowing some great foster parents and some of the inside pros and cons of the foster system.

I liked the book, except for one passage that was too graphic.

It was a fictional account, but the amazing fact is that 250,000 children rode the train over a period of several decades.

What are you reading this month?

Five Minute Friday: Place

It’s  Friday!  This has been a stressful week.  Glad to make it to Friday.

Linking up again with Kate Motaung and the FMF crew, writing for five minutes prompted by a word.

This week’s prompt is place.

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Where is my place in this world?

The question needs to be answered by everyone, but it gets trickier for global nomads.

That longing for belonging feels harder to satisfy when you’ve already lived several different versions of yourself.

What is the essence of belonging?

I believe it is living in community.

And, to me, the essence of community is connection.

So, now, the question remains– how do I connect to others in community to find my place of belonging?

The way to do that is to search for kindred spirits and create connection, community and culture with them.

Sound like a tall order?

Maybe.

Or maybe you could just call it an retreat or reunion. That feels doable.

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Stop wishing you read more: one simple key to reading more books

Every year, almost 5 million people google how to read more as part of their research for New Year’s Resolutions.

It comes in behind exercising and eating right, but it’s on the list of things people want to do to improve their lives.

I remember wishing I read more.  I didn’t google it and I didn’t make it a New Year’s Resolution, but I was feeling it intensely.

I still wish it sometimes, but not as often and not a strongly, since I discovered the simple key to reading more.

 

The key to reading more is to surround yourself with irresistible books.

Goals and challenges can help.

Accountability and support systems are good.

But, achievement will be almost effortless if you are surrounded by irresistible books.

The challenge will no longer be, how can I make time to read? But, how will I get my cleaning done, how do I get a full night’s sleep every night? How can I get my work done?

Not just great books, not just bestsellers, not just books that are famous, but books that are irresistible to YOU.

Finding them and getting access to them is your challenge.

How do you find them, the irresistible books?

First of all, you have to answer the question Why am I reading?

Am I reading to be educated or entertained? Do I want to learn or escape? These are the two main reasons people read.

The exceptional writers are the ones who can entertain while teaching or instruct while entertaining.

So, you mainly want to escape and be entertained? Where do you find great books? The plethora of books available makes finding ones you love a daunting task.

You could go by bestseller lists, by GoodReads or Amazon reviews, what your friends are reading, book clubs or bloggers. There’s so many great resources on the internet now to find books you love. Pinterest, instagram, twitter.

So, you’re interesting in learning? To scale up your business, to take up a new hobby, to rocket your side hustle. Or to improve your spiritual, emotional or relational life. To understand what’s happening in the world or in politics. To understand a cause or join the conversation.

This is the best time in history to connect with people with the same interests as you. You can find them online. You can find out what they’re reading and what they’re writing.

Surrounding yourself with irresistible books has never been easier.

Even with the disappearance of bookstores. Even if you’re not close to a library, the possibilities are greater than ever. There’s audio books. There’s ebooks. There’s used books–sometimes cheap online, sometimes not. There’s free books from people building their businesses.

Some people don’t consider the time that they’re exercising or commuting or cleaning the kitchen as a good time to read. But, if you add audio books into the mix, all of a sudden windows of time for reading open up.

 

Find books you love.

When you are surrounded by books you love, then it’s no longer a problem of finding time to read, it will be a problem of finding time to clean or mow the lawn or sleep.  It won’t be a matter of finding time to read.

I think this is the key. I really do. I owe a lot to Modern Mrs Darcy for helping me to find books that I love. Not that everything I’ve heard on podcast or read about in her blog have been winners, but I found out about a lot of books that I wouldn’t have otherwise. It gave this fiction snob a reason to believe that there are novels out there that I like. I had about given up hope. It felt like all the wholesome novels were not well-written and the well-written novels were not wholesome.

“Throw your phone in the ocean.”

Even with print books and ebooks, there’s the time you spend waiting, there’s the time you spend on your phone or watching tv or engaging with social media.

Austin Kleon’s number one rule for reading more is “Throw your phone in the ocean.” Nuff said.

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Try

Lately, Friday has been sneaking up on  me.

There’s been so much on my mind that I’ll be in the middle of writing my daily 500 words when it hits me:  it’s Friday!

This week has been particularly hard on the routines, which isn’t a bad thing for vacation.

Linking up again with Kate Motaung and the FMF crew.

Today’s prompt is try.

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To me, try goes hand in hand with persistence.

It also goes hand in hand with courage. Trying often is proceeded by pep talks that work up the courage to take the plunge.

I remember sitting in the car once, working up the courage to walk into the office and hand in a resume. The job didn’t work out, but it felt good to face the fear and take the plunge. To do it scared.

It’s a tad disappointing to discover that as you get older, there’s still so many fears to overcome. So many chances to be brave. So many new hills still to climb.

In that way, it makes it good to flex the courage muscles.

They are always needed.

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OK, full disclosure:  I went over 5 minutes.

I wrote for 9 minutes (and I deleted my false start).

We’re on vacation this week, and I’m using my son’s computer, which doesn’t have a visible clock at the top like ours.

So, I could blame it on that.  Or, the desire I have to wrap things up and not leave them hanging, once I start a thought.  Plus the desire to crank something out in five minutes that’s worth reading.

I like the challenge of such a limited deadline.

But, I also want to post something worth reading.  Something I’m not embarrassed to promote.

Therein lies the dilemma.  And therein lies the temptation.

The temptation to look good.  Wow.  That’s a problem.  That’s a problem I struggle with daily.

So, since confession is good for the soul, now you know.

Hmm.  It’s hard to be vulnerable.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Five Minute Friday: Inspire

 

What a week.  Lots of overwhelm.  Thankful for some vacation days coming up.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the FMF crew.

Today’s prompt is: inspire.

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There’s few things that can inspire like hearing someone’s story: raw, transparent, redemptive.

Just knowing that they triumphed creates within us a hope.

If they could do it. If they survived. If they attained, made peace or reached an understanding, I can. There’s hope for me.

That’s the bottom line of inspiration.
Since we are all part of the human race and you came through it, I now have hope.

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