Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Life Stories

Before my father died in 1999 he would call me and tell me stories about serving in WWII. He was a cook in the army and many times he would tell me about the dishes he cooked. He shared recipes, talked about the huge quantities of food he prepared, and talked about the men he served.

Although he often repeated his stories, I knew they were an important part of his stage in life. He was almost 80, legally blind, a diabetic, and unable to drive. His life was spent remembering days gone by. According to Erik Erickson's personality theory, individuals in later life face "integrity vs. despair." This stage of life is when an elderly adult begins to review his or her life to see if it was a success or failure. They tell stories as they reminisce about the things that were important to them.

Often children of the elderly get impatient because of the repetition. They don't realize that by listening they are validating the importance of their parent's lives.

While in grad school one of my projects for a class on psychology and aging was to do a video interview with an elderly friend or relative. I chose my father. Although he suffered from depression, his eyes lit up as he told stories about his childhood and youth. I learned things about him that I had never heard before. But more importantly, the stories he told didn't get lost in his death. Answering the questions about his life gave him the opportunity to show that his life mattered. It also gave me the opportunity to understand how he became the man he was...not just the father he was.

Our stories may not be page turners, or thrilling adventures, but by sharing them we create a legacy. It is in the knowing and being known, and loving and being loved, that our legacy lives on.

“Live your life fom your heart. Share from your heart. And your story will touch and heal people's souls.” Melody Beattie

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday's Quote of the Day

“Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you.” Aldous Huxley

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday's Quote of the Day

"Champions know there are no shortcuts to the top. They climb the mountain one step at a time." Judi Adler

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday's Quote of the Day

"Might there be something about information -- the speed with which it comes, the sense of control it gives us -- that can truly become addictive?"Kevin A. Miller, Surviving Information Overload

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Stressless Saturday: Information Overload

Have you ever opened your e-mail account and wanted to scream because of the sheer number of new e-mails that came in over night? I recently changed my e-mail address and it has been a great opportunity to rethink my e-mail habits. For instance, I had to decide whether or not to rejoin some of the e-mail subscriptions that I had. Some were very informative...most of them were, actually...but I just had too much information being dumped into my inbox every day.
My subscriptions included (not an exhaustive list):
The American Association of Christian Counselors
Spark People (a diet subscription that I never opened)
Christian Counseling Journal
TGIF (a great workplace devotional by Os Hillman)
Vista Print (a great way to get business cards or postcards very cheaply!)
Pay Pal
Freecycle (in two towns)
Bank (I get a daily update on my balance)
Google alerts (I had daily updates on 5 different topics of interest)
Picasa Web (they updated me any time one of my friends posted new pictures)
Church Prayer Chain
Church Newsletter
Client e-mails
Office Depot
Office Max

I'm exhausted just looking at that list! I began the process of paring down my e-mails by making the list you see above. Then I decided which ones I really opened and read each day. I still get many of them, but I have modified them. I changed my subscription from freecycle to the daily digest (once a day listing of everything offered instead of multiple e-mails a day) and limited myself to one town. Google alerts come to me once a week now instead of every day. I decided that although the Os Hillman devotional was great, I never actually read I didn't inform them of my new e-mail address. Spark People was a no-brainer since I never used it. I get flyers from most of the stores listed in my Sunday paper, and since I don't usually order things online from them I cancelled those e-mails.

Well, you get the idea! Once you have eliminated unnecessary e-mails use the "Do, Delegate, Dump, Delete" process on the remaining e-mails in your inbox.

Do - if there is something that needs your attention or a reply do those first.
Delegate - forward e-mails that need to be taken care of by someone else
Dump - If there is information that you need and want to keep, dump it into permanent storage by making a hard copy or by saving it as a document.
Delete - they say 80% of e-mail is junk...don't be afraid to hit the delete button!

We DO have control over some aspects of information overload. Take a look at your inbox and get started!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fun Friday

One Sunday a cowboy went to church.

When he entered, he saw that he and the preacher were the only ones present.

The preacher asked the cowboy if he wanted him to go ahead and preach.
The cowboy said, "I'm not too smart, but if I went to feed my cattle and only one showed up, I'd feed him."

So the minister began his sermon.

One hour passed, then two hours, then two-and-a-half hours. The preacher finally finished and came down to ask the cowboy how he liked the sermon.

The cowboy answered slowly,

"Well, I'm not very smart, but if I went to feed my cattle and only one showed up, I sure wouldn't feed him all the hay."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Dress for Success

There were times when I worked as an employee that I wore my “power suit,” a red blazer with black pants or skirt and a white blouse. My friends knew that when I put on my power suit you had better watch out! I usually only wore it when I needed to confront my boss or a board member about some injustice in the workplace. They say that “clothes can make the man,” and I think that is even truer of women. We often put on clothing to make us feel good, fit in, and change the way we feel.

An interesting story came across my computer a few weeks ago about barn swallows. It seems that a team of researchers found that by artificially coloring the breast feathers of male barn swallows the testosterone levels of the birds increased. Now the barn swallows didn’t have mirrors to tell them that their feathers were colored. They depended on other birds reactions to them. It seems that the female birds are more attracted to male barn swallows with darker feathers (because they have more testosterone). The interest of the female birds made the male birds “feel” better and their biology changed because of it! Don’t you wonder what those male birds were thinking about themselves with so much attention? It makes me think of my oldest brother standing in front of mirror as a teenager telling himself “I’m cool!”

As I sat thinking about the barn swallows and my power suit, I wondered how the way we dress, and the way we talk to ourselves, effects the way we feel. It may be a stretch to compare ourselves to the barn swallow, but I think there is a lesson in the story! In a book by Virginia Richmond, Nonverbal Behavior in Interpersonal Relations, Richmond states, "The way we dress communicates a great deal of information about us, who we are, our relationship to others, our values, attitudes, preferences, goals and aspirations." So what do your clothes say about you? And what do you say about yourself? Sometimes change has to occur from the outside in. Dressing for success isn’t just a catch phrase…it may be true!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Life Rules

I was sitting in church yesterday when a young family, who were obviously new to the whole church thing, broke the unwritten rules for church behavior. They walked in late, crossed one whole row of seats and an aisle to sit down, got up repeatedly during the service, and returned one time through the side door at the front of the sanctuary where they could be seen (and heard) by all in attendance. At one point I looked over and mom was nursing her baby without covering herself with a blanket or burp cloth, and then dad proceeded to throw the baby up into the air and catch him…much to the amusement of the many rows of people behind them.

At first I was a little irritated that these people didn’t know the rules! And then I started thinking about how we learn the unwritten rules in life. Where do these unwritten rules come from? And if they aren’t written anywhere, how do most people know them and follow them? Did they grow up in a churched family like mine where the rules were taught (or caught) from early childhood? Most of our life rules are based on social standards, and they are unique to different situations and places. It would not have been out of place for a young family to get up repeatedly or cross a row of seats to find the best seat at a sporting event, but in church it seemed inappropriate, and definitely broke the rules for proper church behavior. Like most “life rules” we don’t even know we live by them until someone breaks one.

I often ask my clients to write their life rules as a homework assignment. It isn’t until we define our life rules that we can begin to understand how we think and then, by accepting them or changing them, take control of how we live.

Virginia Satir, renowned psychologist, used this story in her workshops and her book Peoplemaking:

"Once a woman was preparing dinner, and her husband, watching, asked, “Why do you cut the ends off the ham before you bake it?"

"My mother always did it this way."

He knew better than to comment further, but he one day asked his mother in law. "Why do you cut the ends off the ham before you bake it?"

"My mother always did it this way."

Luckily, the grandmother was still living, so he had a chance to ask her: "Why do you cut the ends off the ham before you bake it?"

"My roasting pan is too small."

Many times our life rules are just as crazy….but we follow them blindly just because that’s the way it’s done! So, what are your life rules? Do they make sense for the life you want to live today? How do you feel when someone else breaks your unwritten life rules? Try writing out your life rules as you think of them over the next few weeks. Your may be surprised that you live your life by so many unwritten rules!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Check out other Wordless Wednesday pictures here and here!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Positively Speaking

One of the trends in modern psychology is a field called “positive psychology.” Founded by Martin Seligman, it is a “new branch of psychology which focuses on the empirical study of such things as positive emotions, strengths-based character, and healthy institutions. His research has demonstrated that it is possible to be happier — to feel more satisfied, to be more engaged with life, find more meaning, have higher hopes, and probably even laugh and smile more, regardless of one’s circumstances.” (

Although motivators such as Dale Carnegie and Zig Ziglar talked about the power of positive thinking, and Martin Seligman started the positive psychology movement, one only has to read through the Bible to see that “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecc. 1:9). I have found throughout my studies in secular psychology that the truth that is found there is found first in the Bible.

It has been said that we have between 50 and 60 thousand thoughts a day. When we engage in negative thinking, those negative thoughts begin to carve a groove in our brains that make it difficult to break out of negativity. We are influenced by what we hear…even the words we say to ourselves. So, let’s look at some of the verses in the Bible that speak of the power of our thoughts and words.

Proverbs 18:21 "Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit—you choose." (The Message)

Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (NIV)

Proverbs 16:24 "Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 5:2 "Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.

Ecclesiastes 10:12 - 14 Words from a wise man's mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips. 13 At the beginning his words are folly; at the end they are wicked madness- 14 and the fool multiplies words. No one knows what is coming— who can tell him what will happen after him?" (NIV)

Proverbs 12:18 "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." (NIV)

In Romans 12:2 we are encouraged "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Thinking positively is more than just saying positive affirmations or editing how we talk to ourselves and others. Positive thinking and positive speaking occurs when we allow God to transform us into the kind of people whose words give life and bring healing.

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.— Unknown