My Inspiration

"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water." Psalm 63:1 (NIV)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Happiness Project - Boost Energy, part I

The month of January is devoted to consciously working on boosting vitality and energy, because as Rubin writes, "research shows being happy energizes you, and at the same time, having more energy makes it easier for you to engage in activities - like socializing and exercise - that boost happiness. Studies also show that when you feel energetic, your self-esteem rises" (18).

For her project, Rubin decided to work on the following 5 steps to boost her energy:

  1. Go to sleep earlier

  2. Exercise better

  3. Toss, restore, organize

  4. Tackle a nagging task

  5. Act more energetic
What concrete steps can I take to try to get more energy?

LOL, more energy? Most people accuse me of being the “Energizer Bunny” so I’m laughing at the idea of more energy although lately I don’t feel that is the case. My energy level is fine but how I channel my energy is the problem. Right now I’m basically flying by the seat of my pants with no set path. I’m in a new job literally feeling my way through each day much like a blind person who walks into an unfamiliar room. I am loving it but I’m not flowing in a set pattern or with what I feel is order and organization. If you didn’t realize by the title of my blog, I thrive on organization even if it’s just in my own mind and 99% of the time that’s how it is. So the feeling of being out of sorts adds stress which is said to drain you of energy which I guess can lead to a diminished feeling of happiness. And I said all of that why? I guess because I’m in denial of needing more energy or redirecting myself so that my energy flows better.

Will you work on one of Rubin’s 5 steps, or create new ones of your own?

I decided why bother to recreate the wheel and take up Linda’s steps and I’m happy to report that this week I have failed at them all but #5. If I can’t do anything else, I can fake the funk, I mean the energetic feeling.

#1 - This is not a week to try to go to sleep earlier as I have meetings planned for every evening this week and if I can hit the pillow before 11:00 on any given night I’ll be doing good.

#2 - I did sign up for gym privileges at work if that counts for #2 but I can’t start using the gym until next week. I also signed up for our annual 10k marathon in the city on March 27 so I definitely have a hard goal set to prepare for. I can do a 5k in 45 minutes but haven’t tried a 10k so it is my desire to complete it in 2 hours or less for my first time out. I have a harder goal out there for myself but I refuse to let anyone else know just how sadistic I can be when it comes to pushing myself.

#3 – Toss, restore, organize – I am “Queen B” at doing that; especially at work. At my new job I have tossed, tossed and tossed to the point that I fear that if I don’t stop I might find myself with empty file drawers. I’ve restored my area to look like I’ve been there for two years instead of 2 weeks and my files are so organized that even my bosses could find what they needed if they were so inclined. I have a bit more work to do when it comes to my personal space though. I have a deep seeded need to torture myself with things of the past and so I have a hard time of letting go of things even if its for my own good.

#4 – Tackle a nagging task – Right now the most nagging task is to organize my home/home office. My husband has been taking care of the home piece so I’ve kinda relinquished that nag off to his “honey do” list. See the latter part of #3 and then keep reading. In order to effectively accomplish this task I need time, I need heat (right now it’s stays about 10 degrees warmer than the outside temperature because it is all glass) and I need peace, quiet and undisturbed time. Living with 7 other people makes this virtually impossible. And did I mention it was glass, which makes me a target for everyone who passes by to stop, knock and interrupt my groove. Oh yeah, there needs to be a desire to eliminate the nag as well, and right now I just don’t have it. I’d rather, read, watch TV, take a nap, or help the kids with homework. I am a deadline driven fool and I’ve yet to give myself a deadline so although it nags me that it isn’t done, I’m not motivated by my perfectionistic desire to accomplish the task because there isn’t an end date. You think maybe I should set one…

#5 – Act more energetic – I’ve smiled, cheered, worked, laughed, ran, fought and bounced my way through life. I couldn’t act any more energized if I tried. It’s a part I was born to play. My ADD/ADHD, competitive, people pleasing, perfectionistic tendencies only seem to increase this 10 fold as I am not going to be outdone or come up short. Some days I feel like I’m going to go down in flames in an effort to do it all but alas I succeed and start all over again smile in tack, princess wave down pat and all my little ducks in a row.

OK, assessment done and I’m left feeling deflated. OMGosh, where is the happiness in this?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Pleasant Surprise

Two days, two and 1/2 hours, 249 pages and I am at the end of a book that has stirred me in a way I haven't been stirred in a long time. It left me grateful that I read it. It gave me a sense of peace and enlightenment that I have been searching for but not quite finding.

I am left feeling thoughtful. My soul has been pricked and my mind is racing to capture the emotions that seem to escape words. If only you could feel what I'm feeling, search through my mind and my thoughts maybe you could understand although I'm not sure I do. I just know I have been touched, changed, given a little glimpse into something I asked about many years ago.

I don't think you can read it and not feel an impact on your life. I don't think you can push it aside or shut the door that it opens to the possibilities in your life or the notion that you've been going about it all wrong or doing it for the wrong reasons. That the quest is not in the answers but in how you handle the questions, the path or the hand that you have been dealt.

Have a little faith by Mitch Albom was the book I read during my forays to Barnes & Noble with my husband this week. I have read several of his books over the years and enjoyed them and the movies that came from them. Tuesdays with Morrie and 5 People You Meet in Heaven were my favorites, that is, until this one. It is a great read, a great lesson, a great story. If you let it, it will open up a place in you that you didn't know existed.

I have faith and at times it is as small as a mustard seed and others as large as the highest mountain depending on the circumstances.

I have a deep faith that there is a God, that Jesus is the Christ, my Lord and Savior and it is only through Him that we can return to the Father. I believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and even though I don't understand all of it I can bear witness to the times when it has spoken volumes in my life, been my compass in the wilderness and a soothing balm to my wounded soul.

Reading this book about these three men and the journey their lives have taken them on has made me look at faith - particularly my faith, in a whole new way. I have a greater appreciation for it; for how I was raised and what it instilled in me. I can look at my flaws and faults and see them as something more than they were - things to be hidden and ashamed of. Now they are lessons in God's unfailing love, 2nd, 3rd, even 4th chances at life and doing it better or giving back.

Tomorrow is not promised. Have I given my best today?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Happiness Project - Why I am doing it

According to Webster's Dictionary happiness is described as "a state of well-being and contentment; a pleasurable satisfaction."

Society measures happiness in a myriad of ways: money, kids, marriages, houses, cars, phones, etc. The key being it is a measured thing.

I've always thought of happiness as a feeling of peace and contentment with where I am and what is happening in my life. I envisioned it as a perpetual state of being. In reality, for me, it has been measured by different incidences that have taken place in my life from the birth of my children, to finding God, to getting jobs, and most recently to my husband finding me.

Why are you doing this project? I know that I am blessed. I know that things in my life are better than they have ever been in some ways. And, if I had to choose an emotion to describe where I am in my life right now, I would say that I am happy. But deep down a part of me feels that there is something missing. I know that my happiness has been a fleeting thing and I want to find out how to make it permanent. That is hard though with all the obstacles that one faces on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

What is your history in trying to be more happy? I grew up equating happiness and love synonymously and have spent my entire life looking for love/happiness. I've gone to counseling, and read tons of self-help books. I've done journaling, blogging, praying, talking, eating, drinking, and drugs (prescription) in my quest for happiness. The things that worked best for me have been counseling, journaling, blogging, my husband and most especially, my walk with God. I've found that I am the happiest when I am doing things for others versus stuff for myself. I truly enjoy serving and being a part of something much bigger than myself which is why I volunteer. In some ways it might be considered running from my life so I don't have to think about whether or not I'm happy but for me it's a way of tangibly feeling something without trying to.

What does happiness look like for you? I don't know. That is what I'm hoping to discover on this journey. This intersects with other things I have been working on like discovering who I am, what my purpose is here and where my sweet spot is. I envision that it has a lot of looks for me but instead of being fleeting it will be perpetual.

Friday, January 8, 2010

In God I Trust!

"Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." Psalm 62:8

December 31 I was laid off. January 5 I had a new job!!! Only God could orchestrate things the way they came together. I totally left it up to Him and he came through just as he has promised in his word time and time again.

I know that there are those that have been out of work 30, 60, 90+ days and counting so I don't take this lightly. I AM BLESSED!!! And I would be very remiss if I didn't acknowledge my God for his goodness and mercy in my life.

Praise God, Praise God, Praise God!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Happiness Project

More Than a Minivan Mom and I go back over ten years; long before she was "famous" in the blog world. I love her dearly not just what she writes but how honest she is to herself, her friends and family. She puts it all out there - thoughts, feelings, rants, commentary - some good and some bad, politically correct or not. I envy how she says what she means and means what she says. I certainly don't agree with what she says all the time but I love to read what is on her mind. I respect her opinions and always give pause to consider things from her side before discounting it with my own.

I am her sideline cheerleader and stand amazed at all she has accomplished and is still doing. She is one of the few great teachers who still care about the kids and getting the most out of them. I wish she were here teaching and not Dallas because I know my kids would learn a lot from her. So, suffice it to say that when she announced that she was doing the Happiness Project and I decided to have a wack at it as well. I'm hoping I'll find out more things to appreciate about my life than I already do.

10 things I like about where I live...

10. Location, location, location - I have it made living in Richmond. I am two hours from the mountains, two hours from the ocean and two hours from DC. We are the halfway point between New England and Florida and with that we get to have all four seasons.

9. History - Virginia is packed with history. As is typical of people who live in such places, I don't appreciate the heritage and history as much as I should. I haven't visited all the battlegrounds or historical wonders but it is a bit thrilling living in the Capital of the Confederate.

8. Food - We have some great restaurants in Richmond and the surrounding area. I grew up on the southern cuisine and enjoy it every chance I get although I prefer to cook it myself. A few of my favorite restaurants are Croaker Spot, Poe's Pub, The Tobacco Company, The Jefferson Hotel, and The Halfway House.

7. Schools - We live where we do for the school system. It is one of the best in the state. Although I'm not happy with how most educational systems have gone to a system of standardized testing/teaching our kids do still have options for their education. Virginia is also home to some great schools of higher education. Virginia Tech, JMU, William & Mary, VCU, UVA, VUU, VSU, etc.

6. Quality of life - We are not the metropolis of Dallas, don't have the NY thing going on and thankfully not as congested as Atlanta. Here in Richmond we have a pace that suits us. We enjoy a slow, easy summer and a fall full of tradition - football, tailgating, turning of the leaves, bonfires and apple cider. I live in the suburbs and work in the city. My mom lives on a farm and the kids get to run and have fun although not as often or quite the same way as I did but they get a taste of it.

5. Shopping - Outlets, outlets, outlets and now we have Saks, Nordstrom, etc. If I loved shopping, which I don't, unless I have the money, I'd have plenty to choose from no matter what direction I headed in. Unfortunately for my friends and family shopping for me consists largely of Walmart. My home away from home! Gap, Old Navy and JC Penney have become regulars in my wardrobe as well.

4. Opportunity - We are up and coming. Several major companies have relocated their headquarters here although others have departed but I think that we have a bright future and more opportunity to come.

3. Sports & Recreation - We have hockey (maybe), baseball is back (yahoo!), football - arena & the Redskins (boo), basketball (college), soccer and Nascar racing!!! - love that sound of the engines starting and the feeling of sitting in the stands and being a part of the action. Not to mention horse racing, theme parks (Kings Dominion, Busch Gardens), skiing, horseback riding, parks, etc.

2. Culture - There is much culture in Virginia if you can get past the confederate flag, which I have no ill will towards. We have the people of the eastern shore, the farmers, the mountaineers and the gentile southerners who love every one as long as they mind their manners. We have Monument Avenue with our confederate icons but Arthur Ashe crashed that party a few years ago, Shockoe Bottom, Oregon Hill, Jackson Ward and Charlottesville (home of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello).

1. Family & friends - this is home. I was born in New York but my formative years were spent here. The majority of my family lives here and although I've left, the longing for home drew me back. I couldn't imagine not being close enough to them that I couldn't make it in a couple of hours but far enough away that they aren't crowding my life. There isn't anywhere that one can go in this state where you won't run into an old friend of a friend if you were born and/or raised here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A New Year

2009-2010 ended/began much like 2008-2009, in elegant praise, worship and fellowship. We attended the New Year's Eve service at church and were blessed in a mighty way.

In retrospect the whole year was blessed. Tony moved to Richmond and helped make our house a home. We got married, took family vacations, visited friends and relatives and surrounded ourselves with people that love and support us.

We made new friends, said good-bye to old friends and let go of friends that were toxic in an effort to make our lives more fulfilling and meaningful to us. We set goals and took great pride in seeing them come to completion and then began new ones and God was with us the whole journey.

God made a way when things seemed impossible. All we had to do was have faith and believe. We paid our tithes, gave generously and stood on His Word and every time things worked out. Not necessarily how we wanted them to, but according to His will and purpose and oftentimes better than how we envisioned things.

His hand has stayed our course right down to losing my job. He knew that there was nothing left there for me and did not allow me to linger there any longer than necessary but long enough to learn a few more lessons about the nature of people and myself.

Which brings me to where I am today, the first work day of the new year - unemployed. All dressed up and no place to go. I got up and dressed for my work day refusing to get out of my routine and the enemy to rule my mind. By 9:00 I had two interviews lined up. Praise God!!!

Both were good opportunities but one would leave me bored out of my mind. They will be making decisions pretty quickly so if one of these is the opportunity God has for me it will be revealed soon enough.

In the meantime, I will be volunteering with one of the agencies that assist victims of domestic violence to keep myself busy and motivated in between interviews.

I am excited about what 2010 has in store for me. Mostly because I'm leaving it all up to Him. I don't know where I'll be or what I'll be doing but I do know that it will be what He has destined me for. I've done nothing in this process but surrender myself totally to Him and let Him be my guide. The jobs I've applied for have been presented to me, I haven't had to seek them out and the volunteering opportunity was again orchestrated by him. I know that great things are coming and I'm preparing myself to be open and receptive to them.

Bigger, better and more than my heart and mind can imagine. I smile just thinking about it and although I have no clue what it will be, if it is from God it can only be good.

A new year, a new journey, a new beginning... so many possibilities.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, said the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. An ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13