Too Many Blogs, Too Little Time

As I go around my house in attempts to declutter and minimize in preparation for the big move coming in August,  I’m also trying to declutter my email.

It is ridiculously overwhelming at how many emails I get in both my personal email and the one I reserve to ‘writing’ only.  On Mondays, it’s tenfold.  That’s the day I get all the blogs I follow that I have selected weekly emails only. So……  as much as it kills me to have to hit that unsubscribe button, I have been doing it a bit more.  I know there is NO WAY I’m going to be able to read all these emails.  I usually end up hitting delete anyway after a week or two of it sitting there still unread.

So for the past two Mondays, instead of using my morning time (30-60 minutes that I get by forcing myself to get up early) to work on my writing, I sit and read blog posts and determine -  “Is this blog really benefitting me?  Do I really get something out of this person’s writing?  Is it someone I enjoy interacting with or do they give me information that will truly contribute to my days/time?” If not, well – I’m sorry.

It really does make a difference though.  It’s so much easier to glance at my email in the morning and determine if there is something truly important there that I need to attend to – like seeing the response to that query letter right away – WHICH I DID!!!  And a request was there!!!  Now I need to keep it decluttered waiting for a response to an actual submission!

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The Purpose of Man

“God created us in His own likeness and image.  He gave us intelligence, free will and an immortal soul, so that knowing God and becoming like Him, we would all become better, perfect ourselves, and inherit eternal blessed life with God.  Therefore the existence of man on earth has deep meaning, great purpose and a high goal.”  ~ Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy in The Law of God

It seems to be a constant debate.  What is the purpose of life?  What is man’s purpose?  What is MY purpose?

For people without faith, I imagine that life does seem incomprehensible.  For even in my days of challenge….those days where I allow the sin of this world to pull me down and away from turning to God for my needs – on those days life does seem accidental and without true meaning and , well, sort of hopeless.  So if I, a Christian, can be pulled away from Him even momentarily and lose my sense of balance in this world – so must it be a whirlwind of doubt and wonder at the cause and reason of it all to an unbeliever.

But the true purpose of man is to know the true God.  With this comes having true faith and believing in Him and living one’s life according to that faith – loving God, our neighbor and doing works of kindness and goodness.  It is indeed necessary to have a life in keeping with our faith to obtain salvation. What greater purpose could there be?

The purpose of Man is not to obtain degrees.  It is not to have great earthly riches or a great retirement account.  It is not to become world-famous.  It is not to complete each task on a bucket list.  The purpose of man is to know God.

Scholars have confirmed that people/cultures in all times have believed in some sort of deity, always having some sort of religion.  This is because the soul thirsts for God.  Having originated in God, the soul by its own will turn to God seeking Him.  The atheistic populations are actually exceptions to the norm – and even they are looking for something (though most don’t usually readily admit it).

So in this hustle and bustle world we live in – when you find yourself feeling something is lacking….feeling like there must be something more that you are missing – ask yourself:  “Am I making God my purpose or am I seeking comforts of earthly matters? ”  If you are not consciously making God your purpose (as was designed to be), then that is what is missing.  It is He that you need.  Turn to Him.  Find your purpose.

“As the deer longs for the springs of waters,

So my soul longs for You, O God.

My soul thirsts for the living God:

When shall I come and appear before the face of God?” ~ Psalm 42: 1-3

 

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Potter County – God’s Country

Today’s post is a photographic display of one of my favorite places to be – a place I have been going to almost every summer for as long as I can remember.  I hope you enjoy :)

2010-07-21 15.10.08    2010-07-20 13.58.10

 

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2010-07-22 08.12.39-1   DSCF1932

Everyone needs a place of escape.  This is one of mine.  What’s yours?

 

 

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Stress Management and Relaxation: The Challenge

Since I posted about challenging myself regarding stress management back on July 4th (Independence Day from stress!), I decided that I should give some updates here and there about what I have learned and what I’m doing to teach myself some stress management and relaxation techniques and how I’m fairing in actually putting them to use.

So far I’ve done the following:

  •  I’ve continued my chiropractor sessions for my back spasms.  Whether it’s the chiropractor or me consciously trying to be mindful of my stress and making myself take more time to relax, the spasms have lessened in intensity and frequency. Now if I could just take that hour it takes me to drive to the appointment and back 2-3 times a week and do something for myself even when I don’t HAVE an appointment…now that would be progress my friends and I’m sure it would lead to less stress induced symptoms. But…..
  • I’ve started reading both books that I purchased….I know…I keep adding books onto my reading list and sometimes I wonder if I’m actually causing myself MORE stress by doing that but….that’s me.  And reading is supposed to LESSEN stress so that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Thus far I’ve only read the introductions and breezed through to see what’s there. I think I’ll benefit from both.  Anyone looking for ways to reduce stress or add relaxation to their lives needs to be willing to try various approaches. There really is not a single technique that’s going to produce great results for every single person, so one must be willing to try several to see what’s best.
  • Promised myself to start exercising again….yeah, I know…I’ve said this before.  But this time I’m trying to be realistic.  I simply can not do 20-30 minute workouts.  I’m aiming for ten minutes – and that INCLUDES time on the bike, jumping rope, or walking AND weight-bearing exercises with very small weights (nothing more until I’m sure the muscle spasm thing is gone).  Exercise, they say, can really alleviate the damage of stress on the body.
  • I’ve made more of an effort to start my days out right.  I set my alarm earlier to make sure I get up and can follow my routine of prayer time and devotion (about a half hour of various things) as well as get in a minimum of 30 minutes on my writing before my littlest man wakes up – er, uh, well, at least before he’s allowed to demand breakfast.  It does make my day seem more productive and fruitful to me.  Doing it first thing in the morning helps me feel more at peace and more control in the day.  This means getting up by 5:30 in the morning when my body just begs to crawl back under the sheet but….it’s worth it – it really is.  Yes, TIME MANAGEMENT is a good way to handle stress!

What have you done recently to reduce or manage your stress load?

 

 

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HELP! A Story of Friendship

Title:  Help!  A Story of Friendship

Author:  Holly Keller

Genre:  Fiction, Picture Book

Pages: 40

Ages: 4-8

Publisher: Greenwillow Books (An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

Why Did I Choose It?  It was displayed prominently on the library shelf on our last visit.  The illustration on the front cover, also done by the author, caught my eye.  Reading the synopsis on the inside cover intrigued me.  I was not disappointed.

A Bit From The Inside Cover: Mouse, Hedgehog, Rabbit, Squirrel, and Snake are friends. But one day Mouse hears from Skunk (who heard it from Fox) that snakes are dangerous, especially to mice.  Oh Dear!

Review:  I found this to be a charming story.  Mouse becomes afraid based on what someone has told him about a friend (hearsay) and allows fear to override  his own experiences (friendship).  He learns, in a difficult situation, that not everyone behaves in the way others believe they will and to trust his own judgment with friends.  While we do need to teach our children to be wary of certain things in this world (the obvious dangers of snakes to mice or the dangers of strangers to children) , we must also strongly caution our children to not make harsh judgments on anyone based on assumptions. This story is a wonderful fun way of approaching this topic.

Let me know what YOU think of it!

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Peaceful Reflections

Peaceful Reflections…..for those times you just need some quiet time to sit, read a short bit and reflect.

Could the leaves exist without the tree, and could the tree exist without the earth, air, water and warmth?  Likewise no soul can exist without God, without His Son, without the Holy Spirit.  God is my being, my breath, my light, my strength, my drink, my food.  He carries me as a mother carries her infant in her arms.  More than this.  Carrying me, my soul and body, He dwells in me, and is united to me.  ~  St. John of Kronstadt

“If you want cure your soul, you need four things. The first is to forgive your enemies. The second is to confess thoroughly. The third is to blame yourself. The fourth is to resolve to sin no more. If we wish to be saved, we must always blame ourselves and not attribute our wrong acts to others. And God, Who is most compassionate, will forgive us…There is no better teacher than death. Have death before your minds: the time when you will leave this unreal world and will go to the other one, which is eternal.”
(Saint Cosmas of Aitolos, 18th Century Greek evangelist)

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold    ~  Psalm 18:2

 

Lord,  Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

 

 

 

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Writing Exercise #7 Point of View

POINT OF VIEW                               

I think since I wrote about changing the POV or Point of View in my own manuscript since getting a professional critique and reading chapter 3 of Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books (read about that here) that the next writing exercise I post for all the writers out there ( homeschool, adult and otherwise) should be this one.

Take a  writing piece that you have created OR take your favorite childhood picture book and REWRITE IT.  If it’s told in the first person, retell it in the third person POV.  If it’s in the third person, write it in first person POV.  You coud be even more adventurous and write it in second person. You could even have the main character write a letter to tell his point of view to another character.

Try these on for size….

Rather than the tale of the Golden Egg as told by Aesop…what if you wrote the story from the goose’s point of view?  (this is an example given by Ann)

Perhaps instead of the traditional tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, tell the tale from the wicked queen’s point of view.  Or from Snow White’s.

” I bit into the apple and immediately felt a pain in my stomach.  Oh dear… does that woman look familiar? Could it be???  Oh….”

Have the third little pig write a letter home to his mother.  “Dearest Mother,  It greatly grieves me to have to tell you…”

If picture books don’t grab you (I can’t imagine but…) try a novel.  Just choose a page and change the point of view.  It’s quite a different experience, isn’t it?

Go on.  Give it a try.   Let me know what you come up with!  :)

 

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Sugar: The Not So Sweet Facts

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I don’t think it’s a secret that added sugar is bad for you.  But I do wonder if people realize HOW bad it is for them. It’s not just about tooth decay.

The sugar you buy in the bag at the grocery store is made up of two simple sugars: Fructose and Glucose.  Sugar is found in plants, including fruit BUT there IS a BIG difference between naturally occurring sucrose and the sucrose found in your bag of granulated sugar.

Fruit offers us nutrition – much NEEDED nutrition and should not be avoided, though it should be eaten in reasonable amounts and always as part of a well balanced diet with other nutrients. Granulated sugar goes through a refining process which refines the ‘food substance’ for ‘food products’ but gives us empty calories, offering us no nutritional value whatsoever.  In the meantime, this form of sugar becomes addictive and robs us of our energy and our health.

However, the biggest reason sugar is so dangerous is that it is actually considered ‘food’ by many and ingested in such ridiculous massive quantities.  Secondly, it is truly addictive and habit forming.

Did you know??

  • Sugar suppresses the immune system.
  • Sugar takes energy away from the body.
  • Sugar raises your blood sugar level.
  • Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.
  • Sugar contributes to obesity.
  • Sugar contributes to diabetes.
  • Sugar can be a contributing cause to cancer.
  • Sugar increases signs of aging and does so prematurely.
  • Sugar can contribute to weakness in eyesight.
  • Sugar can lead to the formation of kidney stones.
  • Sugar alters the balance of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in our intestinal system.
  • Sugar can affect learning and concentration in children and adults.
  • Sugar upsets mineral relationships in the body and can interfere with absorption of calcium and magnesium.
  • Sugar causes heart disease. (What? Never heard of this one?  Check out the talk by Dr. Robert H. Lustig, a UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology titled “Sugar:  The Bitter Truth)
  • Sugar promotes inflammation.
  • I could go on and on and on and on……

…but my point isn’t to list all of the horrible things sugar can do.  (You can certainly check out a much more extensive list created by Nancy Appleton Ph.D. here.) My point is that it does do horrible things, more than what we were told when we  were little and pouring extra sugar on our Rice Krispies (four grams of extra sugar in each teaspoon I heaped on…and I heaped quite a few teaspoons) and that we really should avoid it and no, we should NOT substitute it with neurotoxic substitutes (more on this next month).

Besides not necessarily knowing how bad sugar really is, I think a lot of people really don’t realize how much sugar they are consuming.

How much sugar is in that??

  • There are 4 grams in a teaspoon of granulated sugar.
  • There’s about 39 grams in a 12 oz. can of cola and 65 grams in a 20 oz. bottle.
  • There’s 17 grams in a 16 oz. Café Latte.
  • There are 13 grams in a cup of milk.
  • There’s 12 grams in just two Fig Newton cookies.
  • There’s 18 grams in just ONE Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Cookie.
  • There’s 19 grams in a 1/2 cup of jello.
  • There’s about 21 grams in a 1/2 cup serving of Ben and Jerry’s icecream….and really, who only eats a half cup?
  • There’s 27 grams in a container of strawberry Yoplait yogurt.
  • There are 4 grams in a bowl of Rice Krispies…unless of course, you add more….
  • There’s about 6 grams in an average piece of pizza.

Okay…so there is sugar in a lot of things.  From small amounts to very large amounts.

How do you get the sugar out??

Well obviously not by adding more to your Rice Krispies like I did as a child.

If I have been or am addicted to anything, it’s sugar.  I understand the desire…the want…the ‘oh my I’ve got to have that’…

but seriously – it’s NOT GOOD.

It NEEDS stopped.

The only way to stop it….is to …well..stop.

You need to eradicate it from your diet.  You need to stop adding sweeteners (and PLEASE do NOT substitute it with evil substitutes).

My recommendation?  The Whole 30.  You can see my many posts on our adventures with a Whole 30 here, and here, and others….  or you can just jump over to the Whole30 website to see what it’s all about.  Honestly, I don’t think I could have cut sugar to such a low amount in my diet without the whole30.  I have not completely eliminated it – that’s a choice I’ve made.  But I no longer CRAVE it like I once did.  I no longer think I NEED it.  I can enjoy foods and beverages without the added sugar that I once would have turned up my nose in disgust without it.  I actually enjoy some foods even more than I use to because I appreciate their natural sweetness.

*You might also want to check out this book:  Get The Sugar Out – 501 Simple Ways to Cut the Sugar Out of Any Diet

However you decide to do it, you need to do whatever you can to greatly reduce the amount of sugar you and your family are ingesting each and every day.  Best wishes nd let me know how you’re doing!

Get the sugar out.  Your body will thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing Picture Books – Chapter 3

I’ve been really behind in reading and writing about this book.  My last posts on chapter one and chapter two were quite some time ago.  I’ve been meaning to get back to it, but it wpid-img_20140707_061624_888.jpgremains sitting on my desk, not far from this computer, and gathering dust.  I’ve been reminded of it in updating my book list and in my recent endeavor of getting a professional critique on one of my favorite manuscripts.  The author doing the critique actually suggested reading it…so….

Thus, I’ve pulled it out, dusted it off and reviewed chapter three – well , really reread the whole thing since it’s been so long since reading it.

Chapter three in Ann’s book is on telling the story.  Interesting that Ann has told me in this book that just like I change my outfits, I can change my story by telling it in different ways- just like the published author told me I could change my story in my current favorite manuscript!  One of those ways is simply by changing the narrative voice – first, second, or third person.  Most picture books are told in the third person narrative.  Ann spends a lot of time in this chapter making sure the reader understands and can identify point of view – and then challenges us to take a story and write it in another point of view.

I’m about to take this manuscript that I have worked on for several months and change it from first person POV to third person POV.  I do think this will help – just not sure I’ll like it but I need to give it a real shot…. time to get cracking.

Do you have a story that you have changed the POV?  What happened?

 

 

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STRESSED?? Who? Me??

It’s back. (PUN intended)

My unrelenting back spasm problem that I have been dealing with for almost 20 years.  It rears its ugly head every so often….leaves, teases me into thinking that was the last time and then…. ‘Honey, I’m home!’….sigh.  Sometimes it’s there for a day.  Sometimes for a couple of days.  Sometimes…. well , this time it’s been there for at least 6 weeks… nothing significant enough this time (knock on wood) to prevent me from going about my normal routine but there…nagging…demanding attention.  I’ve tried all sorts of things – Tylenol, ibuprofen, muscle relaxants, massage, osteopathic manipulation, physical therapy, a chiropractor…

Some of the above brings about some help.  But the bottom line is this is one of the ways my body copes with stress – which always makes me realize I do not deal with stress well. And I REALLY need to just admit it and do something about it…thus this post and a challenge to myself.

Everyone deals with stress.  Most of us deal with stress in one form or another on a daily basis. Many stressors are the same for everyone.  Each of us also usually experience some unique stressors. Some people seem more susceptible to stress while others seem able to just let certain stressors roll right off their back. My back is wishing I would do that too and  always reminds me I need to look for ways to handle stress and cope better.

First -  What are the causes of stress?

Well, some of the main causes of stress shared by the majority of the population include stress in the workplace (that would include home for stay at home moms and dads),  financial changes and problems, personal relationships, children, daily hassles of our current ‘too busy’ society, death or illness of a loved one, illness (our own), parenting ( the stresses of motherhood are soooooo underrated!), behavioral issues of children or siblings or other family members, moving, and many, many more.  Really, I could go on for days…

What are the effects/symptoms of stress?

There’s quite a few:

  • fatigue and lethargy
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • anger
  • irritability
  • fears
  • muscular tension, aches, pains (and SPASMS!)
  • headaches
  • neck pain
  • indigestion
  • digestive issues
  • insomnia and other sleep issues
  • concentration and memory difficulties
  • high blood pressure

I personally have experienced quite  a few of the above symptoms at one time or another and it’s not even a complete list.  Hmmmm…..so now- what to do about it?

WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT??

I’ve decided to spend some time (FINALLY) researching this.  And doing something about it.  Relaxation just does NOT come naturally to me.  Frankly, I’m jealous of those people who seem to be able to smile all the time and seem to be able to lay aside their earthly cares to relax and distress in whatever way they do.  I’m really wanting to learn how.  Care to join me in my adventure?

Thus far, this is what I’m doing/have done:

I took a ‘poll’ on Facebook – to see what my friends like to do to help them relax – this is what I found:  Listening to music, reading, enjoying a cup of tea, writing, drawing, painting, time in the woods (nature), bike riding, prayer (meditation), golf, message, etc.  It was good to do this poll- I saw that I do some of these things (prayer, reading and writing) fairly frequently though still not necessarily enough and some of these things occasionally (drinking a nice cup of tea, time in nature, etc.) but have not tried some others much at all ( I don’t foresee the golf happening…sorry).

I bought two books -  Stress Management For Dummies and The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook.  There was a slew of books out there on stress management and relaxation. It was hard to decide.  I decided the first may be written in a ‘stress-free’ manner that may help me figure out a plan of action that’s actually doable rather than some of the books I read about that sounded like total stress just figuring out how to be less stressed…. and the second book seems to be the one that was rated high by the most viewers.  I’ve had a book similar to it in the past and recall it being helpful..soooo….

I wrote this post – I figured I need to challenge myself to really take handling stress and learning how to relax more seriously. So if I made that challenge public – maybe, just maybe I’d stick with it – at least enough to figure out a few techniques that work for me and make at least a bit of a difference.  What do you think?  Want to join me in my adventure?  I intend to do posts once in a while on what I’m reading and learning and my experiences with it.

So……   if you want to share with me how you handle stress or have some thoughts on this subject, please share.  I hear one thing is very important when dealing with stress….  KEEP BREATHING.  (That does sound like good advice, doesn’t it?)

So…..   Carry On and KEEP BREATHING!  I’ll be in touch!

 

 

 

 

 

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