Do Over Challenge

New Year Resolutions are hard to keep.  Sometimes they are just too big to grasp, and too overwhelming to start.  This year I decided to get some help;  I leaned on Jon Acuff’s “Do Over” challenge, and it was Goldy Locks’ just right for me.

Each day you read ONE page, just one, then answer a few questions… The words encourage and inspire, while the questions help you focus and put yourself in gear.  Then you spend 10 minutes doing what you want to do over.  You do this for 10 days, meaning you’ve only spent 100 minutes.  So if it doesn’t work for you, it didn’t hurt.  If it does, it’ll gain momentum and snowball forward throughout your year.

For my first “Do Over,” I decided to spend 10 minutes a day drawing or painting.  I had always loved making things as a kid.  Craft kits were always on my wish list and paper and pencils were always packed for vacation.  Whether it was drawing, scrapbooking, crafting, I loved to create.  But as I grew, life got more and more busy, and the things I wanted to do were replaced with things I had to do.

So I wanted a Do Over.  This time I was putting a priority on something I love.  I was and still am worried that I lost the nack for it, but I’m “kicking fear to the curb” and doing it anyway.  It’s scary to show my work, it’s vulnerable, and I know it’s not perfect… but I’m not going to stop chasing my dream just to look “cool.”  So here it is… here are some of the things 100 minutes brought me.

dooverart

I enjoyed this challenge so much, I’m going to do it again.  This time I’m inviting you to join me. 10 minutes for 10 days, chase your dream.

 

“One Moment Can Last Forever”

At our all staff Christmas party, our guest speaker read from Wess Stafford’s book, “Just a Minute: In the Heart of a Child, One Moment…Can Last Forever.” Full of stories, she picked just a few to share with the staff; Stories that told how one person in just one moment breathed life into a child that altered their path – or – how in one moment one phrase could dash their dreams and begin a downward spiral.  The book was filled with pages of inspiring stories that began to make you wonder.

After one story, different Heads walked forward to share the one person who inspired them to be who they are today.  Another story, and we were encouraged to share at our tables about one person who encouraged us.  Closing with a final story, we were reminded that our business has a story too and that each of us were a part of it.  At our table we all shared about how we got our position and what led us to this career.  It was a great way to feel a part of something bigger and better than we could be alone.

However, I had a hard time choosing just one person who influenced me. I have been blessed to cross paths with so many wonderful, encouraging, and inspiring people.  My life is full of friends and family members that I cherish and who have loved me into the person I am today.  So I want to begin a journey of thanking all of these individuals for what they taught me or how they loved me.  In the next couple months I’ll be sharing my stories with you here.  I hope that they can remind you of the many people who have blessed your life, and perhaps encourage you to tell them thank you.  Maybe you can reflect on the many opportunities you have infront of you to be the one who inspires.

A Calendar Surprise

As you may have noticed, time has been on my heart and mind lately. It was my goal last week to schedule in more free time, so that I had the freedom in my life to say yes to God. Ironically, a class I am taking had the same idea! God sure speaks through irony!

Our activity sheet had a week’s calendar on it. Monday through Sunday was listed on the top of the chart, with every hour listed along it’s left side. Then, given a typical week, we were to fill in all the hours with the average tasks. Getting Ready and breakfast 7-8, Work 8-5, Band Practice, Church, Bible Study, Zumba, etc. Once the chart was full of the mandatory items, you were to highlight our heavily outline all the free-time you had. From the 10 minutes to the hours.

I was SHOCKED! Why? Because I had a lot more free-time than I thought.

Look at all the free-time I had been squandering! Couple minutes here, hours there… they were all being spent, but without my knowledge and without my attention.

Perhaps, like me, your problem isn’t TIME after all, but intentionality. How are you spending the time God has given you? Are you on facebook, and before you know it you wasted an hour or two? Were you watching Netflix, and because you didn’t want to get up you let the next episode auto play? And the next, and the next? Are you hitting snooze too often, and avoiding your quiet time with God?

This exercise opened my eyes, and my calendar! I have more time than I know, but it’s up to me to spend it wisely.

 

“O Lord, make me know my end
    and what is the measure of my days;
    let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
    and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!

Psalm 39:4-5

Multitasking : The Great Goal

Multi-tasking is quite the phenomenon in today’s generation. Job descriptions require it, the business savvy may list it on their resume, and women boast of their biological ability to switch easily from left and right brain functions.  Technology has been invented to aid us in the pursuit of multitasking; It raises the bar saying, “You can do more.” Just today, my i-phone allowed me to talk on speaker phone while getting directions while driving…. And if that’s not enough, I can just double tap and toggle over to see the latest tweet, or to google an address.

Culture implies that it is no longer enough to be busy, but that we must fill every spare second we have with not just one thing, but maybe two or three. However, multi-tasking has a lot more negative effects than we realize. Studies show that an individual’s productivity drops by 40% when they are multi-tasking.* Errors rise, and the length of time it takes to accomplish one given task nearly doubles. Repeated exposure to multi-tasking creates a biological urge to do more. Jumping back and forth between activities can release a spark of adrenaline, that the body craves in increased quantities over-time.

Because of the fast-paced multitasking world we live in, we struggle with maintaining focus. One task seems boring. We cannot drive without also talking on the phone. It is nearly impossible for one to go on a date without impulsively checking their text messages. We have to troll the internet while watching TV. During all of this we are missing out!

We miss the time that our spouse says we look nice, when our favorite character the Dowager Countess makes a smart quip, when the car is trying to merge into our lane. We miss our chance at love, laughter, and life.

Let’s stop multitasking.  Let’s unplug from technology that aids us in this endeavor, and instead let’s focus on one thing at a time.  One important thing after another.  Not only will we be more effective, more productive, but we will be more alive, in the moment, and here for those around us.

*For more articles and research on multitasking:

Busy, Busy, Busy

Life seems so busy. Too busy, really. I often find myself easily stressed, and overwhelmed. Every morning, I wake with a to-do list; Every night, I toss and turn in a frenzy of the things I have done and have yet to do. These lists keep me up at night, and my brain will not shut down.

My husband asks me if I want to lead a church project with him, and I get upset. “Look at everything I am doing, I can’t possibly fit another thing into the schedule!” If I add one more thing to the calendar, I think I will bust!

But I don’t want to live life this way… I want to have the freedom to say yes. I want to have the time to be spontaneous. I want to have excess to spend. I don’t just want it, I NEED it… and so do you.

When I overfill my calendar, I am making my own schedule. I am making all of the choices, and I have every day and every hour planned. But when I leave room, I give God the opportunity to fill that time. Instead of saying, “Sorry God, I’m too busy. I’ll put you down next month,” I can say, “God, I am available now, use me.”

Slowing down will create opportunities to say yes. Say YES to God! Say yes to your husband, and say yes to family. I am tired of letting the Calendar get in the way, it is time to take back control and MARKER in time to say yes. Schedule time to simply BE. Be still and know. In the slow quiet times, know that the world will not implode. When you stop, your life won’t explode. When you are not in control, God is.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields[d] with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God

Psalm 46:1-3;9-10

Have you Stopped to say Thank You?

Where I work, there are two bathrooms; One at each end of the building.  Whenever the facility crew is cleaning them, they put up signs in the open hallways to warn people “Don’t walk all the way down here, the bathroom is closed!” (However, the sign really just says “Slippery When Wet.”  Which, it is not, because it is carpet.) It can be a lengthy walk when you have to pee, and you’d be dancing on your trek to the bathroom on the opposite side of the building.  So it is a very nice gesture!

One day I was booking it to my usual bathroom, I turn the corner and I see that the cleaning lady had just gotten there and was about to put the signs out.  They run on a tight schedule, and are usually quite cross when they are interrupted.  I asked hesitantly if I was too late, and the lady told me she would just start with the Men’s and I was free to go in.  I did my business, washed my hands, and started on my way back to my desk.

I didn’t get very far, maybe just a few steps around the corner, and God nudged me. I felt convicted and moved.  Turning around, I caught her grabbing a garbage bag.  God had me tell her thank you.  I babbled on telling her she must not hear it enough, what she does is important and appreciated, that it takes integrity and hard-work.  Before I knew it, her eyes seemed to glisten with acknowledgement.  I am very thankful that my ears were open to God’s idea, that He chose me to carry out that bit of love for Him.

After sharing this experience with churchfolk, they decided to take on this challenge: say thank you to three people this week.  Say thank you to the garbage men, the mailmen, the bathroom cleaners, the McDonald’s worker, your cashier.  The people who scrape the sidewalks of snow at work, just say thank you.

This is THE day that the LORD has made!

Friday morning, the alarm goes off, we hit snooze and get out 9 minutes of cuddle time.  Then we begrudgingly ease our way out of the bed for our morning routine.  Tap uses the bathroom first, I make the bed and take too long trying to figure out what to wear.  The bathroom is free, I use it, do my makeup and hair as the wonderful smells of breakfast waft upstairs.  It’s a good system.

It was Friday though… The bookend of a long work week, and the day my hubby takes his sabbath.  The day where it’s hard to go to work because I have been there for four days and I know my husband is at home.  This last Friday, though, my dad calls me and asks, “Have anything great in store today?”  With sarcasm and a blah attitude I said something like oh just work…  That’s when he called me out, and did the father thing I love and will cherish.  “But today is the day that the Lord has made!  We need to rejoice and be glad in it… Just because you are at work doesn’t mean God isn’t still there. He has placed blessings wherever you go, for you to find!” Then he challenged me to look for those blessings throughout my day.

Wow! right? That is a simple concept, one we know in our heads, but forget so easily in our hearts and attitudes.  I don’t want to live 40 hours of my week believing God is not there, when He is!  I don’t want to let the devil trick me, and fall in his snare to hate the workplace and refuse to see God in every waking hour. So I took up my dad’s challenge… and these were my blessings last Friday

-My hubby made me an above and beyond breakfast!  CREPES! (on a Friday!!)

-The zits that I had been vainly struggling with for two weeks were starting to fade.

-I went to work and the IT guy came to my desk immediately to fix several problems I had been having. So not only did I get several problems fixed and a brand new mouse, but I got to have friendly and fun conversations for the first hour of my workday.

-My workday was busy and fast-paced, but not stressful – Resulting in a quick day!

-That evening I had plenty of time to unwind with Tap, so we went for a walk.

-We spent the remainder of the evening around a campfire, feeling the first of the Fall weather coming our way, and wrapping up our day with wonderful conversations and fellowship.

 

God will hide blessings in every nook and cranny of your life! What blessings have you discovered?

Cubicle Life Pt 2 : Cubicle Decor

When I first learned that I would be working in a cubicle, I was a little hesitant.  High grey walls, eerie quiet, the seldom visitor- but when I went to work I was happy to find that our cubicles are much more like little families.  Every department is set apart with a couple tall walls, and half walls in between each individual in the department.  There is a constant opening for questions, chit-chat, and the occasional dropping of eaves.  The space is open, rather than claustrophobic, and you can see everyone’s heads by just looking up.  It is a much more social environment than offices, and certainly my perception of cubicles- in this way, I have been blessed!

One drawback of cubicles that still remained, though, was it’s drab appearance.  Various shades of grey, and a constant clutter of tacky thumb tacks, post-it notes, and a dozen “must have” documents stuck to the walls.  After a few weeks, I decided to de-clutter my workaholic organized mess, and flare up my cookie cutter box.

Here is a small sample of what I was working with… I forgot to take several “Before” shots, but I assure you it came standard with several documents tacked all over the walls.

Before Cubicle

After doing a little shopping and pre-setup, my husband came in and helped me put up my decorations.

Cubicle After 1Cubicle After 2Cubicle After 4

This remodel was inexpensive, home-y, and inspiring!  I printed off google images and pinterest quotes free at home, cut them out and simply mounted them on cardstock.  Then I bought a little bit of ribbon and fabric.  I used a wide ribbon as a border on my high wall, held up by tacks on each end.  Then I found that the grey cork-ish boards came off the walls, so I wrapped fabric around them, tapped it on the back side (not to do any permanent damage) and then created a french board with ribbon and tacks.  I then took photo favorites and scattered them throughout the design.  Overall, the remodel cost $15 (fabric, ribbon, cardstock, and photos).

If you want to create a wallpaper feel to your cubicle, you could also take a fabric of your choice and measure it to the size of the wall you are covering.  Pre-hem and sew the edges to give it a clean-cut look and tack it down.

I hope you can make a home out of your office! After all, we do spend 40 hours a week there!

Cubicle Life Pt 1 : Shoes

Well, this is certainly a chapter in my life that I never foresaw… That of working in a cubicle.

After assessing our budget, my dreams of moving up in the workforce, and the pursuit of opportunities- My husband and I decided that I take a step out of my old job and into something new.  Our main goal is to make bigger strides in paying off our school loans, but perhaps beyond that, working for the more “corporate” world will get me the connections, the experience, and the padded resume I need in life.

Overall, the change has not been bad.  I have had to update a part of my wardrobe that I left buried and dusty in the corners of my closet.  I had not slipped these on since I went to a “dress-code” semester of school in College.  Let me tell you, it is hard to find work clothes that are all of the following: Modest, Youthful, Trendy, Professional, Well-fitting, Comfortable, and interchangeable for everyday attire.  It is hard to justify a big purchase for work if it isn’t something I would want to grab out of the closet and wear on a weekend.  But since I have to push my way through, I thought I could share with you what I have found.  First off – Work Shoes!

After spending a solid two hours at my favorite store, I found three perfectly comfy, perfectly appropriate footwear for the office.

Ivanka Trump's Lori

Ivanka Trump‘s “Lori” has an extremely squishy insole and a well-fitted turn on the ankle – needed for ballet flats to stay on your feet as you walk!  I particularly like VonMaur‘s limited version in grey.  The pointed toe, bow, and studs add a youthful flair.

Cole Haan Air Tali Lace Wedge

Cole Haan‘s “Air Tali Lace Wedge” is perfect for a dressier look and elongated legs.  Cole Haan‘s wedges are made with Nike Air Soles for comfort, and if you’re anything like me, wedges are much more stable than stilettos!

Born Julianne FlatFinally, we have Born‘s “Julianne” flat.  I have been blessed with these by my parents for my birthday!  A great staple, and they come in several fun summery colors as well (orange, blue, purple, and mint).  These have a comfortable sole and extra arch support.  They are simple, but this classic look goes with anything.  Dress it up or dress it down!

I hope this helps any of you ladies out there! If you’re transitioning into cubicle life, stay tuned, I have just a couple more tips up my sleeve to come!