Why I stopped productivity tools (for a time)

“Be available.”

Recently I read those words “be available” in Bob Goff’s book, Dream Big. Challenging us to be available even when pursuing ambitions, Goff writes on how he encourages readers to contact him by adding his personal phone number in the back of his published books. He can get hundreds of calls a day, he explains, however he also receives new perspectives and ideas while serving others.

“Being available isn’t about about giving yourself away recklessly or wearing yourself down to the point where you have no energy to do your own work. It’s about keeping yourself open to the world around you so you don’t fall back asleep.” Bob Goff, in Dream Big

I am one who needs lists to get things done. I have a Polestar Business Planner for work and a pretty 52 List Planner for my other ambitions like writing, photography, and graphic design. Some days I am inspired by the checkmarks, and other days I get disappointed with myself for the lack of ticked off items. I’ve been trying to find a way to balance pushing myself and being realistic. Regardless, Goff’s words woke me up to how I was becoming a slave to my list.

I realized too, that focusing on my lists had me falling asleep to the present. My lists left little room to be open to new discoveries, new ideas, and especially to developing intimacy with others.

A me centred living is not a life-giving path.

Ecclesiastes 5:9-12 says:

Two are better than one,
  because they have a good return for their labor.
If either of them falls down,
  one can help them up.
But pity anyone who falls
  and no one to help them up.
Also if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
  But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
  two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken


I think all of us know intuitively that we are meant for relationship. Yet, we can hide away using our lists, our ambitions, and our judgements to avoid reaching out, or just picking up that call instead of letting it go to voicemail. I know I’ve been waking up to how I can isolate instead of opening myself up to an unknown adventure. Often, too, I have found when I say yes to an invitation (even when I feel too busy or tired to do so), I am renewed and blessed.

A ‘me’ centred living is not a life-giving path. A ‘we’ centred life leaves a legacy of comfort and healing by helping each other flourish, succeed, and create a safe community.

The people you spend time with will play the largest part in the ambitions you achieve, not the minutes you saved each day by avoiding them.” Bob Goff in Dream Big

What active step can you take today to engage in your community? Is there a list you need to let go or hold more loosely?

Other news!

Hope Connections is released! You can find out more at InspiringHopeInYou and Here.

NaNoWriMo is soon upon us. I’ve never fully participated in this challenge. Have you? I am beginning to work through Short Story Writing (WD) and Story Engineering (Larry Brooks). With an encouraging writing community, I am working through these writing crafts books.

If you are on Instagram, I’d love to connect with you there, too. Add your Instagram handle in the comments or you can follow me and I’ll follow you back!

Perfecting Unmet Expectations

“We added the $100 senior discount as well. Thanks.”

What? I re-read the text message. A senior’s discount? I walked to the nearest mirror, scanned my face and hair. Had all this isolation these past weeks aged me? I did look paler, and sure miss going to my aesthetician to swipe (well, rip is a better word) those –ughh–unwanted hairs away. And there are more greys than blonde in my hair, however that has been happening for many years now. Why did the man who scanned my backyard for 10 minutes to give me an estimate on a deck build think I was a senior deserving a discount?

My phone pings. Another text message.

“We trying to help communities and seniors in this Covid19 era…I can add another $75 gift card for groceries for you. Thanks”

What?!!

He must have me mixed up with someone else. Or does he?

And where did this vanity in me come from? I didn’t think I was that concerned about aging….

In a month I will be 55 years-old. Freedom 55 some call it! I’m far from freedom 55. No sailboating in a Caribbean Sea in a white polo t-shirt and blue knee – length LLBean shorts with a husband at the helm and a school of dolphins playing close by.

Instead on my birthday, after my work day has ended at 4:30PM, I’ll likely don my comfortable runners and a bamboo hat so my ears don’t start aching from the prairie wind, walk around the man-made urban pond in my neighbourhood and watch the Canada Geese (if I’m lucky) leisurely paddling in the muddy water.

Ah…life….it does not often turn out like a life insurance commercial.

(To be fair, I have read recently that the life insurance company who branded Freedom 55 is now rebranding to reflect the more realistic scenario of people having to work much longer, the goal of retiring at 55 becoming less attainable in our economic climate.)

But, on my birthday walk in a middle class neighbourhood of green grass backyards adjacent to man-made ponds, I’ll pass couples walking dogs, kids on bicycles, and flutters of sparrows. I’ll take a 20 minute drive to my eldest daughter’s and her husband’s home where I can take another walk with my two grandchildren and discover a new weed growing in prairie grasses and listen for a call of a nuthatch. We’ll eat cupcakes made from a mix and topped with ready-made whip cream. We’ll play Uno and read Star Wars New Reader books. We’ll make a summer plan of a weekend at a lake. Later, back home to my duplex, I’ll smell the cannabis being smoked by the neighbour who shares a wall with me. I’ll light a lavender candle, tuck myself into bed as I have for 20 plus years as a divorced gal, and read and read and read until my eyes start to flutter closed.

And life…is well…perfect in all it’s imperfections and unmet expectations. Even this aging thing is okay….

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The college age boy scoops my items at Bulk Barn. I tell him that my girlfriend owned a bulk store thirty years ago when they always had to scoop for their customers even though no pandemic regulations in effect.

He stops, a scoop of carob chips in his hand, looking confused. “Did you say thirty years ago? Aren’t you like thirty something years old?”

I’m smiling. (I like this kid)

That deck man must have gotten me mixed up with someone else.

What gifts are you experiencing from unmet expectations?

Linking up at Soaring With Him

Being alert in the comfortable

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His look of surprise did not deter me. I looked back down at my check book to continue writing the amount he had just verbally told me.

“You know ma’am, you can’t pay me the fine directly. You have to mail it in,” he said passing the yellow slip of paper through my car window.

Check written, I tossed it on the passenger seat along with the traffic ticket. “I know,” I told him. “Just want to deal with it now so it’s over and done with.”

“Well…” he shook his head slightly, stood up straight. “I must admit that’s a first. Someone paying the ticket before it’s even written.”

I considered his thin, greying hair and assumed his rookie days as a police officer were long ago.

“Glad to give you a first then today,” I said, eyebrows raised, slightly smiling.

Once again driving, my seat belt now secured around me, I thought how unfortunate I was to get a seat belt violation only a three minute drive my home. I deserved it though as I was guilty.

And  isn’t that how it often can be? We can ease up on the rules, press the boundaries to the limit, often in those places where we’ve become very comfortable?

Oh, my friend, I definitely have walked to the edge of boundaries. And fell.

Fallen into a messy heap of consequences.

King David’s Messiness

King David too, found himself in a messy heap of consequences when he messed in an area he had no business being in. Instead of going to war in the springtime with his army, he chose to stay home. And walking one evening his eyes wandered beyond the boundary of his palace roof to another roof where the beautiful Bathsheba bathed. He summoned her; he got her pregnant; he got her husband killed, and his son died at just 7 days old.

A string of consequences started in the comfort place of his palace home.

A slip out of  a boundary may seem innocent. In David’s case, seeing a beautiful lady on a walk in a familiar place was an innocent activity.  But when he took a further step, lingering on her beauty, he began get close to the edge where it is harder to turn back.

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He may have felt he could handle himself and would not slip into sin. Or maybe that he deserved the pleasure of Bathsheba,  after all his hard work on battle field.

Why We Break Our Moral Boundaries

Pride. Self-sufficiency. Sense of entitlement. Lust. All of these can lead to actions that take one over the edge. And when one boundary is broken, it’s easier to break another, then another. And be quickly swept away like falling into a river’s current.

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Believe me, sisters and brothers, I’ve been there. Once it wasn’t until I physically removed myself away from a situation, that the fall broke. And one of the most important lessons (and humbling) I learned:

No one is above temptation. Anyone, even the most righteous like King David, can fall. Click to Tweet

God Helps Us Not Slip Over The Edge

But God gives us the help we need when we stay in the boundaries of His words.

Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil (Proverbs 4:23-27).

And seat belts are best to clipped into place before you start driving!

The Adventure Continues

As per my last post regarding starting my winter search for owls, still seeking! Here are a few shots, though, of those smaller creatures in our woodlands.

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Linked up today at SoarPatriciaHolbrook_RW_button3A-e1485727161169ing With Him

A homesteader’s teachings-# FMF

This post is part of Link-up-Five Minute Friday

This week’s word prompt-DEEP. 

Add a subheading

She greets us within her clay hut, the light so dim I cannot see the colour of her eyes even though it is midday. She tells us she is a neighbour taking care of her friend’s five children while she goes to town to buy a few goods. Her friend’s husband is away, you see, she explains, harvesting deep in the fields. I look around. One double-sized cot covered with a tattered quilt takes up half the space on the dirt floor. A clay stove, and the wooden chair where the woman sits wearing a cotton printed dress and wool mittens, are the other furniture pieces in this place that is not much more spacious than my bedroom in my home not too far away.

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She’s playing her part well, this woman actor at a historical village that teaches and reminds us of those that played a part in creating our prosperous province today.

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A family of seven had lived in this home deep in the Alberta prairie lands. They sculpted clay to form their home walls and chopped what wood they could find to keep warm during the harsh winters. It was the late 1800’s when free farm land in Canada became a draw to move away from their home land of Ukraine.

This Monday is our Thanksgiving in Canada. And I’m in awe and grateful for those early homesteaders who farmed, and harvested, and helped on the railway, and created an economy for those that followed them to flourish and grow.

And I’m also grateful for the deep-dish Apple Pie I bought at their bakery shop that day!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

Read more posts inspired by DEEP at Five Minute Friday

 

 

Where We Live (is all just temporary)

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Oprah Winfrey’s current tour includes our provincial capital city. That is surprising to me. Canadian-American actor Seth Rogen’s character in the movie Like Father demonstrated perfectly how us Edmontonians tend to introduce ourselves to our American neighbours: “I’m from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada,”  he tells actress Kristen Bell’s character. Not just “I’m from Edmonton.” Or from, “Edmonton, Canada.” Rogen’s comment when interviewed regarding that line:

“Yes, Canadians do that 100 percent. City, province, country. Canadians are always afraid, and rightfully so, that Americans won’t know where Edmonton, Alberta is. That’s a legitimate concern (laughs).”

I must admit when watching the movie, I laughed out loud at that line. It’s so true! Sometimes when I’ve found myself travelling and answering where I’m from,  I’ll add “It’s close to Calgary. You know, where the Olympics were in 1988.”

The hockey fans I’m chatting with will generally  know of Edmonton with our NHL team and Wayne Gretzky history. And the city and surrounding areas have been homes to Olympic medalists in skiing and figure skating, hockey and curling–all sports so-very Canadian.  Oh, and then there is the West Edmonton Mall, the largest mall in North America and 14th overall in the word. So, thinking this further through, I’d say Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is more than Oprah tour worthy. (Disclosure: I’m not interested in going to Oprah’s talk but would have gladly gone to see Michelle Obama, however the tickets were too high for my budget. So I’m waiting in line for her book from my library–I think I’ve moved up to 98th spot).

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All in all, we may be able to boast about world wonders in our home cities, or not. Where we live may be recognizable on a worldly scale, or just known by those within a 100 km radius or less. We may have to point on a map or show an Instagram post for others to understand where we call home. Or just say the city name like those from New York or Dubai and receive wide-eyed responses of wonder and questions.

Although our countries and cities, attractions and landscapes can shape our likes, dislikes, choices of career and hobbies, our identity is rooted in the One who created all. We need not ever be afraid we are unknown, or that we need to lean on a neighbouring place to be seen. We can be rest assured that in Christ we always know where we come from and where we are going.

For all this is temporary, until we are called home.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. Matthew 24:35

Let’s get to know each other better! Tell me where you live and something you like about it.

I’ll start:

I’m from Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada which is just east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada that is a four hour drive north from Calgary where the 1988 Olympics were held! 🙂 I love the wide-open spaces of the wheat fields, watching CFL football on a summer day, and skating in the winter. On cloudy days and my birthday, I like browsing Williams & Sonoma, Anthropology and Pottery Barn all at the West Edmonton Mall!

Now your turn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Unexpected Way

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With my faithful blue back pack that carried my camera within, I walked the familiar path. My plan was to reach the pond on the western side of this provincial park I had visited many times before. At the pond, I’d hear and see the life of spring with whistling frogs and blooming cattails. However, it’s been a cool spring. Rounding a lower and shaded corner where ice capped snow covered the pathway, my hikers slipped instead of keeping me upright. Stubbornly I crouched, hoping I could somehow crawl myself to my wanted destination. Soon I resigned my plans and turned back, discouraged and saddened that I wouldn’t be able to complete the journey I’d set out for myself.

But then when I reached my starting point, I kept on, walking an easterly route I had never taken before. Soon I found myself at the edge of a boardwalk much longer than the familiar westerly one. I unzipped my jacket and removed my gloves noticing how the mid-morning sun shined the wooden slats of the boardwalk and lit the tips of the surrounding cattails. I easily navigated the bends and curves of this newly discovered pathway. I rested on one of it’s benches watching a pair of Canada geese, surefooted even on the frozen pond.

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If I hadn’t had to turn away from that westerly, familiar path, I would never have discovered the place on the other side of this park. Often, I can get so caught up in the familiar, that I don’t see that there just might be another way, even a better way, to navigate my places and situations. Sometimes it may take a complete roadblock or impassable path before I turn to look another way. And then discover something so much better than ever expected.

It reminds me too, how the disciples had thought Jesus’ life and power was the path for them to conquer the Romans. But the path was in the opposite direction, wasn’t it? It was through Jesus’s death that conquered something so much greater than just the Romans-the bondage of sin. The disciples familiar path to conquer with power and war was gone with Jesus’ death on the cross. And, in it’s place became an unexpected but much more better way.

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 2:18-19

Is there a pathway you are turning to go His Way?  Or a familiar one you are being asked to turn away from? May you rest in knowing the unexpected path can lead to the unexpected and a better Way….

Happy Easter, my readers! I will be back here again after our Easter celebrations.

 

A death and an invitation

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split. Matthew 27:51

Have you ever stood, feet bare or protected, in a river’s rushing water? The river’s rocks slippery under your soles, the water colliding with your body somewhere between  ankle and knee? The river’s water pressure as it rushes by you feels strong enough to sweep you away too, taking you unwillingly along it’s travels downstream.

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Yet you stay placed, as the water sweeps by. Your body stronger against the current, your confidence deepening in your stance as moments pass along with the hastening river.

As the calm confidence settles your mind, the once roar of the rushing waves becomes a symphony to you, and the greasy rocks now glisten with polished colours like sun illuminated stain glass.

And you breathe, breathe freely and openly in this place now that the fear is edged out, replaced with the assurance that your posture will hold you from being swept away.

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My friend, I believe, know that is what God wants for you too. He wants you to breathe even when those thundering waves of difficulty threaten to sweep over you, to take you places along the currents you swore you would never go.

Sometimes these threats are pressures from relationships, where convictions and obedience are strongly opposed. That friendship, that mentor, that boss, that potential romantic partner you seemed to have waited for forever, is now asking you to join in to activities that once was the old way of living you turned from when cleansed that day in baptism, in acceptance of His way.

Sometimes threats can be from circumstances we never imagined we’d be in: a divorce, an estranged child, disease, a crime against us, and injustices.

We may even create our own threatening waves from our brokenness leading us to seek solace in things of this world that harm rather than bring life.

Yet Life is where we can turn to–no threat can defeat it.

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We celebrate this weekend the Hope that was given to us, the new way of freely living that opened to us with the tearing away of the veil.

Paul reminds us in Hebrews:

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10: 19-23

This gift of freedom, this forever grace from our transgressions is due to the shed of blood on that cross of an innocent Man by ones who were slaves to their pride and self-righteousness–ones who felt threatened by the freedom that was being offered to them.

But you, my friend, can accept this freedom gifted through His offering to have your heart cleansed with the sprinkling of His grace, and your body washed to purity.

There is no barrier between You and the One who will not let the threatening rivers sweep over you. Will you accept His invitation to draw near to Him, the forever faithful One who will be your help, your protector, and your strength giving you His peace no matter how thunderous the rivers waters rush around you?

Will you, my friend, accept the invitation of an unconditional Love that surpasses all our understanding?

Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God, that you died on the cross to rescue me from sin and death and to restore me to the Father. I choose now to turn from my sins, my self-centeredness, and every part of my life that does not please you. I choose you. I give myself to you. I receive your forgiveness and ask you to take your rightful place in my life as my Savior and Lord. Come reign in my heart, fill me with your love and your life, and help me to become a person who is truly loving—a person like you. Restore me, Jesus. Live in me. Love through me. Thank you, God. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen. Retrieved from Ransom Heart

 

A New Way of Success

 

Jan17“Search for it like silver, and hunt for it like hidden treasures, then you will understand.” Proverbs 2:4-5

The above scripture started a workbook on a study that soaks in the scripture of James. When I read those words earlier this week, I was surprised but then again not.

I’d read the same scripture exactly one week prior as the reading for a group gathering. And in that gathering I’d written to be persistent in seeking His treasure, His wisdom.

And just weeks before, I’d chosen a word for the year-PERSEVERANCE.

Honestly at the time when I chose the word I’d defined it as persevering in the places I wanted to grow in-my writing, my photography, my coaching business, for example.

And in those places of growth were multiple tasks of how to get myself BIGGER, more into the market place through social media and networking.

And hopefully creating new, valuable product as that is my favourite part.

But I left that goal as a possibility only because I felt I hadn’t reached the success level  to create something new.

I didn’t think it wise to create more when I still had inventory of past collections.

And not wise as (getting real and honest here) having not collected the amount back of the investment I’d already made into all my current creations. So making money an arching goal seemed like a wise thing to do.

I joined an entrepreneur  group to learn the multiple ways of marketing, made a binder of goals broken down into steps, vision boards, and daily, monthly, year success sheets to consistently “plan, do, review.”

I started listening to daily motivation videos.

But with all these items, just days in, my motivation began to slip away like water into a drain.

Continue reading “A New Way of Success”

A tough decision

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about. His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 

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Joseph’s decision to divorce Mary came from his faithfulness to the law, but his wanting to do it quietly shows how he wanted to protect Mary too. By quietly divorcing Mary, not loudly exposing her to the judging public, he may have been intentionally protecting her from being stoned. I can imagine, between wanting to uphold the law and protect Mary, that he must have felt he was between a rock and a hard place. And there was only one option to make the best out of the situation.

But God had another plan, another option for Joseph, beyond the law, and beyond his own rational thinking.

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But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. 

Matthew 1: 20-21

Continue reading “A tough decision”

Moving Right

Chuck slithered, his belly against the ground, his fur barely clearing the space between coffee table and his back.  Under the table, his front and rear legs stuck out the ends, and just the tip of his nose. 

“You crazy dog!” My friend stood, hands on her hips surveying the scene–a tipped mug and a coffee puddle by her feet, the result of enthusiasm (for me) shown through the wagging tail of her blonde Labrador Retriever.

I leaned down from my sitting position on her couch to peer under the table. Chuck’s head lay between his paws and his sorrowful, shame-filled eyes looked into mine. “It’s okay, buddy,” I whispered. “I know you were just trying to show you were happy to see me.” I hear his tail pump on the floor. “I make mistakes too, even when I think I’m doing what I’m suppose to do.” I stroke his nose.

Just recently I found myself slithering away from people too, after a misunderstanding of directions. Although not meant to harm, comments by others over my misdemeanour left me feeling raw, stirred my ‘not good enough’ gremlins. Shame washed over me like a tidal wave and caught me in its under current.

Continue reading “Moving Right”