#Words can’t describe this #picture. Or can they? Give it try in the comments.
You are never closer to our Creator than when you experience His creation.
#Words can’t describe this #picture. Or can they? Give it try in the comments.
You are never closer to our Creator than when you experience His creation.
Happy New Year! I heard a radio personality talk about how far into the new year it’s appropriate to say Happy New Year. I think this first week, and this first post of #2023 lends itself to the greeting. Okay, on to other first-of-the-year stuff. Has anyone else already taken down their Christmas decorations? We have! I love having my house back. The calendar page has turned, or maybe we closed one calendar and started a new one. I love a fresh calendar – 365 days of possibilities and unknowns. Some good days and some bad; hopefully more of the former.
The first of the year often brings a new set of goals and plans. After two weeks of some time off work that ends with the pop of a new year, how do we go back to the daily routine and keep our minds fresh? It has to be an intentional renewal every day. We need to think of each day the same as we do at the beginning of the year – new possibilities and unknowns. Lamentations 3:22 – 23 (there’s a book of the Bible you don’t read often) tells us that God’s mercies are new each day. Why shouldn’t we adopt the same mindset? Each day is an opportunity to do a little better than the day before. Show yourself and others more grace and humility.
Write it down. Not just your #goals, but things you want to be intentional about. On my 2023 planner weekly page, I have a box called #Gratitude. It’s a blank box and reminds me to look for things to be thankful for. Even if I don’t write anything in it, just seeing the word, “Gratitude” is a reminder enough. Let’s talk about #goals. They should be written. To be sure we don’t get too far into January, I always have them written by the end of the first week.
Written goals are more likely to be completed. There are multiple ways to write, organize, and accomplish goals. Mine fall into three main categories: Spiritual, Financial, and Physical. There can be multiple goals for each, but be sure they are specific, measurable, and attainable. We tend to be very optimistic about what we can accomplish in an entire year, but we also tend to put off the action items we can do today, this week, or this month toward that goal. Don’t start efforts toward your goals all at once. Maybe add a timetable to allow for you to ramp up. Remember slow and steady (mostly steady) wins the race.
Mostly steady wins. Keep moving forward. If you have a big goal, break it down and take small steps toward the bigger goal. Weight loss and exercise are big areas goals are set in. Both can feel monumental. In both of these, remember small changes lead to bigger successes. I joined Weight Watchers to give me the accountability I need to lose some weight that I’ve gained over the last several years. I was doing well last Spring and Summer, but then I slowed down when it was harder to be outside and it was too cold to swim. It took years for me to slip into some bad eating habits, I’m not going to fix them in a day or week. Here I go, slow and steady.
I’ve heard it said that financial success is 80% behavior. I think that could be said for many of our goal categories. Self-discipline to not let distractions take us away from our goals is huge. So while you’re writing your goals, go ahead and include one or two actions you need to take to get started.
Let me encourage you to take some time this week to write down what you’d like to accomplish this year. Find a friend who has goals they are working toward. Accountability is important to accomplishing goals. And add a couple of steps to get started. Oh, and don’t try to start everything in January. Slow and steady. Small wins lead to big wins.
You can do this! As of this posting, you have 361 days, and 8,664 hours to complete your goals.
All the best,
Watch for Karen H. Richardson’s debut novel, Curtains for Maggie, in 2023!
The thought of a first Christmas typically brings warm feelings and a smile. The first #Christmas you had a boyfriend to exchange gifts with. Your first married Christmas. A child’s first Christmas. The first Christmas in your first home. My siblings and I have now had two first Christmases. The first Christmas after losing a parent is empty. The first Christmas after losing your second parent is just sad. We are now the oldest generation. That’s just scary (yes, comic relief there).
Our mother passed into eternity in #March. We took care of the details and are still working on closing her affairs. But it’s impossible to pack away the hype that she brought to Christmas. Mom loved to cook, and loved to buy presents. Weeks before Christmas, she was buying baking supplies; sugar, eggs, flour, jars, and jars of peanut butter for fudge. While we all offered to bring food, she insisted on cooking; chicken and dumplings, beef tenderloin, shrimp cocktail, and orange dip (it’s a family recipe). Last year she couldn’t get out to shop, but she made sure her great-granddaughters got dolls and her great-grandsons got remote control cars. Don’t be misled, there was plenty of drama along the way. But we all got through it, and we made sure that Christmas was as close as possible to what mom wanted.
Each of us is navigating this first Christmas without mom carefully and gently. There have been plenty of tears. Some at random moments, like passing the doll aisle in Target and not needing to go down it. Or other times when making a menu for our sibling Christmas gathering and my husband asked if I wanted to attempt to make mom’s Waldorf salad. “No, not yet.” Just couldn’t do it this year.
To my readers who are having the same kind of first Christmas consider this a virtual outreach and empathetic connection to say, “I understand.” Be in the moment with your family and friends. Don’t let your grief overshadow the goodness you may have right next to you. And when you need to cry, take a minute and let the tears go. Those who love you will understand. The best way I can honor my mother is to be generous and enjoy good food, and my family. That is what I intend to do.
Identities are at an all-time high. We have an #identity we show in person, on our fun social media sites (Instagram, Tik-tok), and with our colleagues at work (LinkedIn). We also have identities thrust upon us by virtue of the family we are born or marry into — daughter, sister, aunt, sister-in-law (or the male version of these roles). Multiple identities can make it hard to just be ourselves. Carrying our identities around and remembering where and when it’s appropriate to bring them out is a lot to remember.
What about identities we go looking for because someone else has one you want? I recently attended a writing conference. There were over 300 writers at all parts of the writing journey and all levels of involvement of the organization producing the event. At check-in, we were given our name badge and a series of ribbons to add to our lanyard. While I typically don’t care to wear name tags, I found myself reading others’ ribbons and wanting ribbons like theirs. For example, after registering for the conference, but before attending, I signed a contract to publish my first novel. So, I didn’t have a “contract” ribbon. People should know this important detail about me! I’m an author. Give me my “author” ribbon! Let the people know who I am! Even writing this now, I’m shaking my head at myself. How silly of me. I know who I am. Most of the time I’m confident in that.
There was a pop-psych book published in the mid-1970’s entitled, Why am I afraid to tell you who I am? Spoiler-alert – the answer to the question is that if I tell you who I am and you don’t like me, that’s all I have. So, are we afraid to really explore the question? Are we running around being who we think we need to be depending on the group we’re with? Are we putting up a front we think will impress others? Are we trying to change our identity because we don’t think we’ll be accepted? Well, yes and no.
It’s appropriate at work, to relate and communicate with your co-workers about all things work-related. There are polite before-meeting conversations about how your weekend was, but for the most part, it’s pretty serious talk. If you’re out with friends, it’s appropriate to be casual (goofy even) and talk about more fun things. Attending a funeral, it’s appropriate to be quiet and reserved out of respect. And if you’re at a writing conference, it’s appropriate to wear your ribbons proudly. As long as in all situations our language and behavior match our true identity and is a reflection of our heart.
Let me encourage you to not chase the identities of others because you want what they have. Be your wonderful self. You were made uniquely you; an individual with God-given talents and skills. Oh, as long as we’re talking about God’s role in your identity, remember you were created in His image. What! Yes, the creator of the universe, breathed life in you. With that breath, you were given a purpose. Don’t hide that precious identity you were given. Part of knowing your identity is finding that purpose. Seek and find — not just a game for kids. We play it our entire lives as we grow and learn about who we are. It keeps things interesting.
All the best,
Let’s connect! You can find me on one of the platforms below.
Like many, we haven’t traveled on vacation for several years. This year has had lots of ups and downs. The downtimes left me only wanting a change of scenery. But when it came to the details and planning, we decided to keep it simple and stay home. A #staycation. We chose a Thursday, Friday, Monday, and Tuesday around our wedding anniversary. With the weekend, we had six days.
Much like a vacation, it took me about a day to really get into vacation mode. Alarms for getting up were turned off. We decided that we wouldn’t cook much, had several of our meals out, spent our days hanging around the pool, and not overplanning every day. We did play pickleball one day, went to a community theater production of Sound of Music, and enjoyed a hymn-sing at our church. As easy as it would have been to fill our time with projects around the house, we only chose a couple and moved them forward. On the day it rained, we ran errands and took care of a couple things.
Our days were comfortable and easy. We spent time in the pool, reading, talking, and laughing. At the end of our days, we climbed out of our saline pool, lotioned up from a solid dose of sunshine, enjoyed a good dinner, and then headed back home to curl up together. It was a delightful time. One I will cherish.
Unlike leaving for #vacation and coming home, there was no packing and no unpacking, and then repacking to come home, we just unplugged and shifted gears. Our change of pace and schedules thoroughly confused our dog, Eli. He didn’t know what to do with himself.
It was a great vacation, even if we didn’t go anywhere.
All the best,
We all have a #COVID story. The events of 2020, and how they impacted and changed us. Some are very positive stories of lives that were enriched as individuals took advantage of the shutdown as an opportunity to connect with their families like they had never before. Or what about the surge in healthy lifestyle changes — at-home workouts, cooking new meals. Before anyone gets mad, yes, there were some horrific experiences during the shutdown — increase in physical abuse, children not engaging in online learning, lack of free meal distribution, and many more. I learned several things during Covid and the social unrest we’ve seen over the last couple of years.
I learned to think for myself. There were (and still are) many opinions about how to handle the virus. It’s important for each of us to listen and decide for ourselves. When airlines discontinued their mask mandate. The country went nuts. The experts were appalled. What was missed was the fact that while they weren’t required, masks weren’t banned either. So, if a traveler is at risk, please wear a mask. And if they’re standing apart from the crowd, hopefully, others will understand and respect that. There were plenty of times I disagreed with what was mandated, but I respected authority enough to keep myself and those around me safe. Watching the protests in the midst of a pandemic was a great example of individuals thinking for themselves. We were all told to stay home, out of crowds, wear a mask, and thousands of people did just the opposite. Cases of COVID in the areas with protests sored. But it was their right. So was it wrong?
It’s ok to turn off the news. We are barraged with messaging and information. It’s everywhere! We can’t look at any #socialmedia or open an email without finding junk mail sent to us because of something we #Googled. For me, it’s gotten to be too much. So, I watch the news just a few times a week; use my weather app for weather. Yes, being an informed citizen is important. But not at the risk of my own stress level. The world hasn’t ended because I quit watching the news. Unfortunately, I could tell you the subject of the first three stories before I turn it on.
Shouting may get someone’s attention, but it won’t keep it. If more than one person is shouting, you can forget getting your message across. Oh, those shouting will get attention, but their message will not be heard. We live in a country in which we have the right to protest anything we believe in. I’m glad about that. And I support any citizen who wants to exercise that right. But the purpose of the protests quits being heard when fires are set, or guns are fired. Then you just have mayhem, and those with the influence to help quit listening and respecting those in protest. Go ahead and shout, but when you’re heard, calm down and state your purpose. Come together with those who can help and together find the answer.
Have faith. In this world you will have trouble (quote from the most quoted text in history). It goes on to say to take heart, we are just traveling through. There is a perfect #God who is ready to come alongside to guide us. And there is an eternal world that doesn’t have the troubles we have here. We need to leave this world a little better than we found it. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control go a long way in living in community with others. We are never all going to agree. That’s the joy and the challenge of being an individual. We each bring our own bias, color, shape, and size to a conversation. Take a breath and listen to the other person. You will learn something you didn’t know before, and can then choose to believe it for yourself or not. Think about it, what if everyone agreed with your most positive conviction? But what if everyone agreed with your darkest thought? What if our definitions of positive conviction and darkest thought are different? We are on this earth for a finite number of days and then we go to the infinite.
Today’s post isn’t my way of saying I’m right and you’re wrong. It’s merely to get you thinking. Comment if you like. Or take a walk, sit alone, and ponder the last few years. What have you learned? How have you changed? And ponder your future, what legacy will you leave in this world?
All the best,
#Goals, #to-dos, and #bucket lists are all very important. Here are a few things to consider. Recently, I challenged a friend of mine to set one goal. She said she had goals – clean out a closet, etc…That is not a goal, that’s a to-do – a chore. And in another conversation with a couple who are a little older than us, they described some things they are doing as “not bucket list” items, just things we want to do while we still can. I get that. Why call things bucket list, if you still may have 20 plus years from kicking it. Embrace life when you can.
Let’s break this down a bit. Goals, larger accomplishments, that may take several steps to complete, and consequently more time. SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based. Mine are broken into three categories, body, mind, and soul; allowing for me to work on different parts of my life at different times of the year.
To do’s, the stuff we must do to manage our lives – maintain the house and yard, grocery shop, run errands. I do find it satisfying to keep a list of to-do’s and mark them off. Not sure why other than I know that in life, it’s easy to go through our days and in the end wonder what we accomplished. The challenge is to not let the to-dos overtake working toward the goals. We must manage our time and commitment to the importance of each.
The #bucketlist – as our population ages, and those who are older are embracing a more active lifestyle, it seems to have a bucket list may or may not mean what it once did. As my husband and I talked recently about where we are in life and some things, we’d like to do we took notice of the elderly folks we most admire. How are they living today, and how have they lived their lives? The ones we most admire are still active. Even slowing down, they are finding activities to fit their pace. They engage their minds every day with more than The Price is Right, and 20 versions of the evening news. We talked about a list of things we’d like to do and began the conversation of what retirement years will look like. The list is varied, and why not? You can only travel so much, read so much, volunteer so much. Why not mix it up? And we realized there are items that are better done now while we’re working than waiting on for later.
So, what are your thoughts on all this? Please add a comment.
Our soul, the essence of who we are. We have a creator who breathes into us and gives life – filling our body with our soul. He designed our soul, but our human DNA comes from our parents, our earthly family tree. What an interesting partnership of that which comes from the Perfect, and that which is imperfect.
Our body houses our soul for all its earthly days. As a Godly gift, our soul is our connection with our Creator throughout this journey. We go through our days handling the realities of life – family, work, personal challenges. The here and now – the physical.
During our life, we take care of our bodies with good food, watch our health, and exercise. But how do we take care of our soul? What about how we feed our minds? How does what we feed our mind manifest in our soul? Are we taking the gift of life, and returning it void or lacking, both in how we live in this world and in the spiritual realm?
Are we growing our minds and soul to look like their Creator? Will our attitudes and actions be the fruit of God’s Spirit continually and over time working within us?
What will our soul look like when we exhale our final breath, and our soul returns to the Father? Before our mighty Creator, will we have filled our soul in such a way that He will recognize it? Will He see more of our family DNA than His?
Lots of questions. Take some quiet moments to consider, what on earth are we doing for heaven’s sake?
All the best,
Colossians 3:23 – 24
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
The second week of January. We’ve had time to make and break ridiculously under-considered #resolutions. Now it’s time to get serious. It’s GOal time! Take time this week to truly consider 1 – 3 things you would like to do in 2022. We’re two years into a pandemic, so we’ve figured out how to do most of the things we want and need to do within the constraints of staying safe and healthy. Below are my thoughts on goal setting in 2022.
Goal setting is NOT making a to-do list (or honey-do lists). That is a totally different exercise we’ll cover later. Goals are those activities that cause us to reach, grow, and get out of our comfort zone. Accomplishing them changes us for the better.
Before Friday, January 14, find some time alone – quiet. Even if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom. Consider yourself and your life, and get real. What do you like about where you find yourself? What don’t you like? Ouch, that hurts. Remember, you’re alone and you’re searching your heart. No one else knows what you’re thinking. What three things come to mind? Write them down, tuck them away and come back the next day.
This year my #goals fall into the categories of mind, body, and soul. Over the 24-hour simmer, let the three things roll around in your head. When you come back to them, are they still three things you want to work on? Take one sheet of paper, if your goals won’t fit on one piece of paper, it’s too much to take on.
Write your goals and simple steps to accomplishing them. Remember these are things that will have you reach, grow and get out of your comfort zone to accomplish.
Now, there they are in black and white. It’s real now. The goals you’ve committed to for 2022. You are going to do something wonderful this year. If you have someone you can be completely transparent with, and you want to ask for accountability, give them a copy and set up a time to connect with them throughout the year.
Now it’s GO time!
All the best,
Dateline: December 30, 2021, For some, the week between Christmas and New Years is like living in another dimension. Christmas is over, this may be a week of vacation or staycation. Work is slow (unless you’re in #retail), it’s an opportunity to get odd tasks complete, but nothing that depends on others or that is super deep. It feels like life is in suspended animation. This week is all about completion and anticipation.
What is something that has a December 31st deadline for you? Something in business? Perhaps you had a goal set and you’re trying to complete it. One year, I set a goal to read 20 books of the Bible, you guessed it, got to the last week of the year and I dove into the shortest books I could complete – Ruth, Obadiah, I, II, III John, Jude. Hey, they were quick checkmarks toward my goal completion. It’s hard for our thinking to not creep into what the new year will bring.
We start a new planner, click over to a new month, or start a calendar. The pages are blank, a clean slate. It’s all potential. We are given as many as 365 days, 8,760 hours. What will we do with them? What will we make of them? How will we be changed or grow as individuals because of what our days are filled with? If you are not thinking about it, you’ve got today and tomorrow. Don’t float out of one year and into the next without a plan or at least a few thoughts about how you will invest your time. Use this anticipatory week (or now a couple of days) to dare to dream about what a fresh new year will bring.
No excuses. No, “yes but…” And if I hear one more thing blamed on the pandemic, my head is going to explode. We have to keep ourselves healthy and safe, but so much of what we’ve loved to do has made the pivot to allow us to continue.
Go ahead, leave a comment here, or write it down on your device or a scrap of paper, what is one thing you’ve put off that it’s time to complete or make a priority.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.Theodore roosevelt
A great quote, but also let me encourage you to stretch a little. Challenge yourself in some area that you have let settle. Grow as an individual and make a difference to those around you, even if they are strangers.
Happy New Year,