Tuesday, December 18, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Everyone Communicates Few Connect by John C. Maxwell


“Talk is cheap. Everybody does it. The question is, how can you make your words matter and influence any outcome? How can you really connect with others?” In a world where communication is lightning fast and every moment of every day is seemingly saturated with messages, how can you make sure your message connects with its target? Do you even understand what connecting really means? John C. Maxwell explores the ins and outs of connecting and effectively communicating with those around us and offers his proven method – Five Principles and Five Practices – to help you do just that.

I was eager to get this book and improve my communication skills by actually connecting with people. However, I just couldn't get into it. Communication is a two-way street, so either Maxwell's writing just didn't do it for me or I possibly have some subconscious aversion to improving my communicating skills. I intend to give this book another go when I get the chance, but for now all I can say about it is that it didn't connect with me, although the following excerpt, perhaps, gives me insight into why:
The final reason people often place too much focus on themselves and not on others is insecurity. I admit, this was not one of my problems as I started my career. I grew up in a very positive and affirming environment, and I did not lack confidence. However, that isn't the case for many people. 
Chew Keng Sheng, a lecturer at Universiti Sains Malaysia's School of Medical Sciences, believes that the underlying reason for immaturity and ego-centeredness, especially among public speakers, is insecurity. “I can remember the first few times when I was asked to speak,” wrote Keng Sheng. “I was literally shaking. When the speaker is insecure, he will seek approval from his audience. And the more he wants to seek approval from them, the more engrossed he becomes in himself and how he can impress others. As a result, he is more likely to fail to meet the needs of the moment.” What a negative cycle that can create, especially if a person doesn't receive or recognize the desired approval.
Insecurity is something I am familiar with, and has been an undermining factor in many personal endeavors over the years. Perhaps overcoming insecurity is the first step for me to begin honing my communication and connecting skills. I am thankful that, as Maxwell puts it, “it's a skill anyone can learn.”

Maxwell's Five Principles are Connecting...
  1. increases your influence in every situation
  2. is all about others
  3. goes beyond words
  4. always requires energy
  5. is more skill than natural talent
His Five Practices are Connectors...
  1. connect on common ground
  2. do the difficult work of keeping it simple
  3. create an experience everyone enjoys
  4. inspire people
  5. live what they communicate
These are all principles and practices that anyone can learn to develop and perfect, but the first step in doing so would need to be identifying roadblocks to learning the skills needed to put them into practice. While I did not “connect” well with this book, I would still recommend it to others as I think it was more of a problem on my end than with Maxwell's.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, October 29, 2012

Another GF Day at the Ranch

Well, ok...we don't live on a ranch. I wouldn't mind it, we could have chickens if we did! But, it was another day of GF eating here for us. Realized I had consumed something that most likely had gluten in it last night and now I'm more convinced that going GF was a good idea. Tried a new pasta. Come see what we ate today (and the recipe I made up for Millet Meatballs!) over at Purposeful Nourishment. See you there!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

No Grain, No Pain

white death flourThere is nothing more scrumptious than the heavenly aroma of freshly baked bread, blanketing my home in total comfort. I’m a big fan of bread, and many things made with wheat. In fact, I just recently ordered a 50 pound bag of organic soft, white wheat berries…and I wasn’t out of the last bunch I ordered. I was thinking ahead, you see. Sometimes, I think I really shouldn’t think…

To make a long story short, God has convinced me to go gluten-free. For how long, I do not know. I’ve been having issues with keeping my blood sugar normal, and in my investigations on how to fix that I’ve come across interesting information regarding a connection between gluten sensitivity and high blood sugar. Yes, I know High Blood Sugar has a shorter name, but I can’t go there right now. That’s a whole other post. Probably filled with a lot of whining and profanity, to be perfectly honest.

Anyway, I have noticed that I consistently have much higher blood sugar readings after consuming something with wheat or oats, and while oats don’t have gluten, unless they are specifically labeled gluten free, they may have become contaminated in the processing if other grains containing gluten (such as barley and rye) are also processed on the same equipment.

I have wondered for some time if my son, Mister Wiggles, has some kind of gluten issue, but just didn’t want to do the elimination diet. It’s a pain in the butt, it’s expensive, and it’s hard when you’re not at home and everyone around you is eating whatever they want. As I read what I just typed, I am thinking “What a bad mother I am! I’ve thought my son had an issue, but it’s not until I have a serious problem that I do anything about it. So selfish!” Be that as it may, what’s done is done and here we are today. This week, the kids and I started doing the GF thing, my husband is doing SLG (Significantly Less Gluten…ha ha!) as long as he eats at home, as will anyone else dining at our table for the unforeseeable future.

In the interest of saving time, both yours and mine, here are some links to informative sources of information regarding gluten:

Already, in just a few days (five, to be exact) of not eating any gluten…aside from the little girl I  babysit giving Mister some animal crackers, and me eating some Hidden Valley Ranch dressing (containing MODIFIED FOOD STARCH…oops…)…we are already seeing indications that this is a better way for us, specifically, to eat. Mister is noticeably less wiggly (he’s still a boy, and still ornery…I think that is just the way he is), Sister reports feeling less tired and more alert, and I just feel better in general and have not had such high blood sugar levels.It’s still too high, so just eliminating wheat/gluten from my diet isn’t going to magically fix things, but I think it’s a step in the right direction. I also have noticed my jeans are a bit more loose, and regardless of the reason that is a good thing.

It appears that gluten sensitivity is genetic, and when I look back through my family line, particularly my father’s side of the family, I have to wonder if this is something in my family. It can take up to a year to really be “fully healed” from the ravages of gluten problems, so it will be an interesting journey for sure. I am encouraged by the initial changes in just a few days and plan to continue with our GF diet.

I’ll be posting recipes, so be sure to check Purposeful Nourishment and see what we’re eating!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

S.O.S. Challenge Update

sos islandIt’s finally September! I so long for the shorter days, the crispness in the air and the lovely scent of autumn on the wind. The urge to bake is revving up again, and I dream of breads and anything pumpkiny emerging from my oven once more. Sigh…

It’s also the beginning of my Sick Of Stuff decluttering challenge that I’ve recently imposed upon myself. Are you curious about how I’m doing? Let me tell you!

Even though I said I would officially start this September 1st, I found myself loading up bags and boxes of Stuff in the last couple weeks of August and taking them to Goodwill. One drawback of dropping stuff off at the store I usually go to is that they give you coupons. They always ask, and actually, I could say no, but…well, I just don’t. I will have to work on that. The good news is that even though I did shop there a couple times, I brought back home WAY less than I took in, so I’m still ahead.

It’s a good thing I started early, though, because my dear honey hurt his back at work the other day so I’ve been busy taking care of him, plus we just had a few busy days already this month and I haven’t taken out a bag or box every day so far. It’s only the 5th, and I’m pretty sure that what I took out in August covers all of September so far. And, today I dropped off two garbage bags of Stuff – one I had loaded in the van last night but forgot to drop off while we were out, and one large, black trash bag full of toys and kid’s books and some things in my kitchen I finally decided I could let go of because actually, I hated them. I don’t know why I hung on to that infernal Pampered Chef potato masher that I couldn’t stand for so long. Every time I used it I grumbled about how much I didn’t like it. But now, it’s gone, and the things in the drawer it once resided in are all things that I use often and don’t make me mad.

I look around at all the things I KNOW I could get rid of, and still feel that “but I might need it some day” urge to hold on to them. It’s a process, I know, but I’m trying not to get overwhelmed by the bigness of it. I’m trying to focus on what can I part with right now, today? Even if it is just one thing, that is one less thing cluttering up my space and collecting dust.

Books will be the hardest to part with. And I know, I could get a Kindle or something, but I just love real, honest to goodness books. I love the feel of them, the smell of them (as long as they don’t smell musty, dusty or smoky!) and you just don’t get that in a Kindle. But many of those books don’t get read, so I’m just going to have to find a way to part with them one way or another. I thought maybe it would be a good winter project – read a book one more time for old time’s sake and then find a new home for it.

Overall, I am happy with what I’ve done so far. I don’t know that you can see a huge difference, but just knowing I’ve removed a bunch of Stuff that I didn’t love or use feels great. You can, however, see a big difference in the toy area and the shelf where we keep the kid’s books. It’s progress, and that’s always a good thing.

I’m going to continue to remove something from my home every day, even if it just gets to the back of the van to go to Goodwill, at least it is out of the house. I will remember to drop it off every week, since I’ll have to have room for groceries. “Odd-sized trash” week is coming up for our town, so I hope to have some trash to load up out front.

Well, there you have it, folks. I’m plugging away at my challenge and am trying to keep focused on the wide, clear, open space I long to have in my home – so I can breathe!

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Trying out the blogger app for android.  Commentors lamented over photo placement, so I'm uploading a few photos that I have taken and posted on streamzoo.
Conclusion...may be useful for quick, on-the-go posts with one picture, but I certainly won't be using it all the time. No way to place photos where you want or add captions...boo. Oh, and twice now I've had publishing errors, BIG boo!

Monday, August 27, 2012

It’s Over,Facebook. For Real This Time

broken heartAbout three years ago, I entered into a relationship with Facebook. It was fun at first. Became an obsession for a while. Then, things began to change. Subtle at first. Things you get used to after a while, and forget why you were so irritated to begin with by the change. But this time, Facebook crossed the line.

I knew it was coming. The signs were everywhere. Other people were talking about it. It’s not like I had no warning at all. But, when I still hadn’t been Timelined, I thought maybe they had forgotten about me. Or, maybe they were afraid of me…as I am not afraid to complain about things I don’t like. Just ask anyone who knows me about my feelings on Mitch Daniels and Daylight Savings Time Dumb Stupid Time. It’s been like six years since that stupid practice was forced down my throat and I still hate it. Loathe it. Detest it. But, that is a rant reserved for for two times a year. The second time is coming in approximately 65 days. Yes, I count the days until we cast off the insanity and resume to normal time keeping. Which is in 69 days, but I usually post something about it a few days ahead.

I digress. Stupidity makes me do that.

There are some people who actually like the new Timeline format. Others don’t care one way or the other. And many, many who hate it. Those who like it accuse those who hate it of just being resistant to change and we should just suck it up and get over it already. These are probably the same people who say we need to be tolerant of other people’s views. Hmpf. Just another example of the bigotry of the Tolerance religion – we must respect other people’s views and beliefs…except when they differ from Ours.

I have good reasons for leaving Facebook – for real, for good – this time. I’ve been trying to break free from the FB habit for some time, but I must admit it has a pull, a certain addictive quality, that makes it difficult to break away. Much like leaving a cult…or a gang. Or trying to kick a $3000 a day cocaine habit. There’s just something about it that makes us feel good.

Is it because we are all incredibly nosey curious? Is it because we are somehow able to feel a sense of connectedness, of community, of family, better over a cold and impersonal internet connection than we can with the people around us who are warm, breathing, bodies of flesh?

Some say that “It's been suggested that people who love Timeline are narcissistic, because Timeline makes it a pleasure to design and curate a digital timeline of your life.” I would also suggest that Facebook in general appeals to the narcissist in all of us. Finally, we have a free forum in which to espouse our many views on life and religion and politics, mostly free from reprisal. We are instantly “published” without the thoughtful work that goes writing a book, or even a quality blog post – spur-of-the-moment status updates can be the equivalent of diarrhea of the mouth. And, if we don’t like what someone says about our obviously superior views, we can delete their comments and unfriend them. Problem solved.

Yes, I’m just as guilty as anyone for spouting off my views on Facebook. And I believe I am right about what I believe…why would I post something I don’t believe to be true? Or morally right? And yes, I have the audacity to disagree with other beliefs and views. I have the audacity to believe they are wrong, at times. That is my view, my belief, and it is just as valid as the opposing views and beliefs, right? According to almighty Tolerance, it should be.  However, anyone with any kind of intelligence and discernment (and a Facebook page) can see that “Tolerance” is rather one-sided.
Again…I digress. Induced by the stupidity of hypocritical “tolerance.”

All of this rambling is to say that I’m just completely over the whole Facebook experience. Facebook doesn’t care about its users, it cares about turning a profit. It does that by selling information that users readily hand over. There is no such thing as privacy on the internet, regardless of “privacy policies”…if you go online, you have to give out information at some point. If you choose to do that, then you can’t whine because someone else does something with it. The world is full of unscrupulous people, greedy people, people with cold hearts that only care about themselves. It’s not a world I want to be a part of, frankly.

Facebook takes up too much time. I’ve had several occasions where I quit logging in (but didn’t deactivate my account) because the dishes weren’t getting done and people were running out of clean underwear. That just really isn’t good. I’m a SAHM, my job is to take care of my family and home. Anything that interferes with that just really has to go.

Sometimes, it takes something drastic to get us to change our bad habits and selfish ways. When Facebook decided that every user would be forcibly switched to the new Timeline, I decided that was it. I will not change voluntarily, and when they do switch me, I’m pulling the plug on my FB account. Surprisingly, it took the better part of a year for them to get around to changing my profile. As providence would have it, it was at the beginning of the month of Elul on the Hebrew calendar. A month dedicated to reflection, repentance, prayer and study. And there is just no room in all of that for the distraction of Facebook.

I will, of course, miss some things. Or, people, rather…as a Marine parent, the support of a Marine Moms group on FB has been amazing, and I’ve met some terrific ladies there. I have family around the country, as well as friends, that I rarely see, but can easily connect with on FB. Why is that not enough to keep me on there? Because real relationships require cultivation and maintenance. They require work. It is much more meaningful to get a real, honest to goodness letter from someone instead of a quick post on their “wall” or a tag in a comment somewhere. It says you care enough about THEM to take time out of your day to make an effort to let them know they are important to you. It’s not easy in this busy, electronic world we live in, true…but I think we need to reclaim some compassionate humanity and let go of cold, electronic indifference.

I can not, of course, end this without addressing another large reason for telling FB to go jump off a cliff. As someone who does not particularly like change all that much, I most definitely do not like it forced on me. My inner child stomps her feet and fumes and pouts and spouts off about it. You can’t make me like or accept something by forcing it on me. And to think that everyone on FB is going to blindly accept whatever you throw at them is just ridiculous. At least for now…the sheeple are coming along, of course. But this woman is no sheeple and I will not be “coming along”.

Not having the ball and chain of Facebook around my ankle has been nice. I’m kind of in a deprogramming mode – I want to log in, to see if anyone misses me, to see what I missed…and yet, I don’t. I thought I’d log in after a week to retrieve some information, like a message I recently received that I want to keep, some email addresses of people I really want to stay in contact with, and tie up some loose ends in a group I created. But, I’m liking not being on Facebook so much, I just might not!

So, for those who think I’m just being silly and resistant to change…well, think what you want. Facebook is not mandatory (yet…have you seen this about a German article? Apparently, people who DON’T have a FB or other social networking account might be “suspicious”. I just might be on a List somewhere now since I don’t have a Facebook…) so I don’t have to have a FB account if I don’t want to. And I have no interest trading my personal information to use a site that forces me into a box of conformity. I would think that for the valuable trade-off of personal information to feed to their  advertisers, Facebook could at least throw its users a bone and allow for some personalization. Give them a choice in the matter, so they don’t feel so…violated. Make them feel like you care and they might not complain so much.

Bottom line is…I have a real life. Sorry, Facebook…it’s you, and you have to go. And don’t ever call me again, I mean it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The S.O.S. Challenge

S.O.S. can mean several different things...Save Our Schools, HELP!!!, Switched On Schoolhouse. Anything with an S-O-S configuration, really. Right now, for me, it is an acronym for Sick Of Stuff. It's time to get serious about Stuff around here.

As I've gotten older, wiser, and more free of debilitating emotional issues, I have found that I'm somehow a better housekeeper. Do not read I'm A Perfect Housekeeper and My Home Should Be Featured In BHG there, please! I just mean that my home does not look like my bedroom did as a child...most of the time. If the kids have been running amok, well, it might look kind of like that. But, in general, you can see the floor and dont' have to walk on Stuff or shovel a path through Stuff to get around. The OTHER horizontal surfaces around here, however, typically have lots of Stuff on them. And I hate it.

For instance, my kitchen counter is a long L-shape wth a stove at one end. There is a particular corner that I have dubbed The Black Hole. Not sure why, actually - black hole implies that things go in and are never seen again. I guess it's more of the Event Horizon thing...if it gets close to that particular area, it ends up on The Pile. I do usually see it again, when I get sick of the Overflowingness and decided to "declutter" the Black Hole. 

I have wanted Simplify for a long time, but I'm not sure what has held me back...and still does.  When I'm away from our home, say at church for example, I get this overwhelming desire to go home and start Chucking Stuff. I feel up to it, I feel Inspired and Motivated. And, I get home and find that I just can't do it. Even though I haven't touched the papers in a certain file in my file cabinet for at least two years, I can't bring myself to throw them away. It's pathetic. 

Yet I long to be Free Of Stuff. I hate the choking, claustrophobic feel of all these things. Things that gather dust. Things that stare at me and remind me how disorganized I am. Things I am in bondage to, because I can not throw them out or give them away. Things that aren't worth much of anything, really. Sometimes, I think about things like What if there was a Natural Disaster and We Lost Everything. Would I survive? Of course I would. I don't really NEED most of this stuff! 

And so, I have decided to challenge myself to fill up a box or bag every day of Stuff to remove from my home. Whether it goes to the trash can, consignment shop or thrift store doesn't matter. It doesn't even matter what size of box or bag, as long as something goes out of the house every day.  It's just got to go. I'm calling it the SOS Challenge. I'm going to start this September 1, 2012...feel free to join me and share what your're doing! 

I love freecycle, but I can't wait around for people who may or may not show up to collect whatever I'm freecycling....I know myself too well. That may work for you, but it won't for me. There's a Goodwill drop box a few blocks from me, and if I have a small bag, I can also get some exercise and ride my bike down to drop it off. I also go to an area that has a Goodwill store (and I get coupons when I drop off my donations...wait, that would probably work against me!). And if nothing else, I can set it out by the road with a "FREE" sign and it will probably be gone in no time. 

Any challenge needs an outline, rules, goals....I'm going to think on those things and post what I come up with in a few days. For now, I have to work on psyching myself up for this challenge. To get rid of whatever it is that hinders me so I can get rid of all this Stuff that does not make me happy or serve a useful purpose in my life. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Conversations With Preschoolers: Applesauce

2012-04-12_12-06-25_HDRThe following is a real, actual conversation with a real, actual preschooler. It is a great example of the conversations that I have on a regular basis, particularly with this preschooler. They always leave me feeling a little dizzy and like I’d just been sideswiped by an invisible sock monster. Or something equally absurd… 


Preschooler #1 is also known as Mister, but he’s not acting in this scene. Preschooler #2 is not related to us at all, she hangs out at our house frequently. The 11 Year Old is my moody daughter.


The 11 Year Old came out into the kitchen and spied some organic cinnamon applesauce, recently purchased at a lovely clearance price. She asks, “can I have some applesauce?” Since we had just had a hearty quinoa breakfast, I said “not right now.” Then I went into my bedroom to gather up laundry…


ME: What?
PRESCHOOLER #2: Can I have some applesauce?
ME: What?
PRESCHOOLER #2: Can I have some applesauce?
ME: I just told The 11 Year Old she could not have applesauce, why do you think you can have some?
PRESCHOOLER #2: Well, we want some stickers!


If there is a connection between applesauce and stickers, I can not figure out what it could be. I just looked at her and shook my head.

We have conversations like this a lot. I shake my head…a lot.

I guess I’ve not been a preschooler far too long, their world just doesn’t make sense anymore! They sure do keep things interesting…I guess there is nothing wrong with searching for a common factor between forbidden applesauce and stickers. Who knows, it might just end up curing cancer. Or causing Democrats and Republicans to put aside their differences and actually work together for the good of the country. Or eliminate the National Debt. Or some other impossibility…

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Brings Out the Zombie in Me

almond blossomsNot one for extreme temperatures, I’ve always preferred the milder climes of Spring and Fall. In fact, it’s always been difficult for me to choose one over the other, they both have had their attractive qualities. After a long, gloomy winter, the flowers and foliage of Spring are a welcome sight. And, after a long, scorching Summer, the crisp air of Autumn is definitely a relief.

No longer am I indecisive, however. I officially dread Spring now, thanks to my arch nemesis, Dumb Stupid Time.

The sun is shining. The birds are tweeting. Flowers are blooming. The temperatures are climbing. Enjoyable to most people, yes.

But, I am not, nor have I ever been “most people.” According to my husband, I am a vampire…evidenced  by my aversion to the sun and night-owlishness. God made me with fair skin that practically bursts into flames in the sun, how is that my fault? I also have an internal thermostat that completely quits working above around 78 degrees, particularly when sun is involved – once I get hot, it takes forever to cool down, and I am very uncomfortable when I’m hot. He also apparently made me to function better in the wee hours of the night, because that is when I feel most sentient.

Not very convenient when one has a family. Especially a family that is nothing like me. They don’t understand my hatred of Dumb Stupid Time. Or my abhorrence of the sun. Or that I just can’t seem to “adjust” to the time change.

And, it's very hard to enjoy warmer weather, pretty flowers and sparkly sunshine when one feels like a zombie all day...only to wake up at bed time. Thankfully, I have my buddy melatonin to help me get to sleep. Otherwise, I'd still be tossing and turning every night with only a dim hope of restful sleep.  If you are not affected by the time change in this way, (and apparently, I am the only person in the world who is, according to lovers of DST) then be thankful, because it really bites.

My friends say I’m too negative. And indecisive. So, here is something positive AND a decision: I’ve made up my mind about which season I like better…so, with a return to NORMAL time-keeping, less intense sun, the delightfully crisp quality to the air, upon which wafts the autumnal aromas of leaves and wood stoves outside, and the comforting scents of baking breads and things sweet and appley and cinnamony inside, Fall wins, hands down. Followed by Winter, where I can once again snuggle up in warm flannel sheeties and piles of blankets in which to drift off to sleep.

Spring, the harbinger of nonsensical time-keeping and months of zombie-brain…and Summer, whose only redeeming quality is fresh produce (thanks to that scorching, cancer-causing sunshine), are tied for the bottom of the list. I see no need to differentiate between the two, unless the next governor of our once fine state has the sense to repeal DST. In that case, though, I will once again be indecisive between Spring and Fall!

But, I’ll take that…and feeling normal…over the swampy, bleary-headed existence I currently spend most of the year trudging through any day.

So, now I am trying to think of ways to simplify my Dumb Stupid Time days. Which I probably should do anyway, I'm sure. But that requires some kind of ability to think ahead and to plan, to make decisions...definitely not something easy to do right now. Maybe once my head clears and I recover from the ravages of DST (in the sweet, crispy Autumn), I can actually do just that. Then I'll be better prepared for next year's Zombie Season. 

Only 231 more days...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

DST 2012…It’s All in My Head? Yep, Apparently

My hatred of Dumb Stupid Time is rooted
deeply in my brain
I’m a little slow in posting my annual I-Hate-Dumb-Stupid-Time-and-Mitch-Daniels blog post. You can thank Dumb Stupid Time for that. I could barely function yesterday since we all, like well-programmed robots, dutifully moved our clocks forward one hour in an inane effort to “save daylight.” Well, I didn’t. I haven’t changed a clock since we were forced to start doing it here in Indiana in 2006. I refuse to do it. I pack my Normal Time watch away and go watch-less so I don’t have to change a clock. My husband does the dirty deed here. It’s my only recourse against this ridiculous scheme. Well, the only one socially and legally acceptable anyway. And, since I love my family and have no desire to do any time in prison, I keep my other countermeasures safely locked in isolation in the deep, dark recesses of my mind. The part that is particularly affected by Dumb Stupid Time.

Many people are aware of my hatred of DST. In case you haven’t heard my ranting and raving before, let me highlight the reasons why I despise it:
  1. wise old indian on DSTIt’s just plain stupid. You have the same amount of daylight no matter what your clock says. You don’t “save” any. You don’t get “more.” I love this picture floating around the internet, it says it very, very  well.

  2. It was forced upon the citizens of Indiana by an egomaniacal bully of a governor – Mitch Daniels. I voted the man into office the first time, and I sincerely regret it. “In his Jan. 18 State of the State Address, Gov. Daniels called the state's "quirky treatment of time itself" a handicap to Indiana businesses.” Isn’t it far more “quirky” to think we can actually change time? Isn’t it more natural to just let time be time? He also claimed the problem was that no one knew what time it was in Indiana. I’m sorry, but if Indiana never changes, then it is constant. And if you can’t figure out a constant, I don’t think the problem is with the constant…it’s with the people who aren’t intelligent enough to figure out something that never changes. And, speaking of businesses…where are all those businesses that were supposed to flood the state because they finally understood what time it was in Indiana? This probably had more to do with lining someone’s pockets than anything else. That and making sure that everyone knew what a big, powerful man Mitch Daniels is.

  3. It doesn’t save energy. I don’t know about you, but our utility bills have gotten bigger and bigger every year. We’ve lived in the same house for the last four and a half years, and there is no “energy savings” that I can see.  I finally found the study that shows the move to DST actually costs the state of Indiana…more specifically the voters and taxpayers of Indiana, $9 million more! The study was done in 2008, so you know it’s costing us more than that now. Interestingly, Japan doesn’t do DST…and they’re supposed to be so much more advanced than us. Hmmm. I’d definitely say they are more intelligent.

  4. Lastly, but most importantly, is that it makes me feel like crap for TWO THIRDS of the year. It’s getting worse and worse every year. I am not “adjusting” to it.  Monday, the day after the dumb time change, I felt tired, crabby, dizzy and hung over all day. I stayed in my pajamas and napped whenever I could. I went to bed at what my body knew to be 9:00 pm and slept fitfully…waking at least six times throughout the night. I feel like I could bite the heads off some small, furry woodland creatures today. It’s now, according to the clock, 11:07 am. I am not any more motivated to remove myself from my pajamas today than I was yesterday. I will spend the next [244 days,12 hours, 50 minutes and 8 seconds…] still feeling tired, crabby and generally “off kilter.” Many of the people who hear me complaining about Dumb Stupid Time undoubtedly think that it’s just “all in my head”. Turns out they are right…to a degree.
Our natural Circadian rhythms are regulated by the SCN. The suprachiasmatic nucleus or nuclei, abbreviated SCN, is a tiny region on the brain's midline, situated directly above the optic chiasm. It is responsible for controlling circadian rhythms. The neuronal and hormonal activities it generates regulate many different body functions in a 24-hour cycle, using around 20,000 neurons. [Source: Wikipedia]Some of those body functions include mood regulation. DST can be very bad for bi-polar people. Isn’t it interesting that it’s located right above our optic chiasm? This means that it takes its cues from the light or darkness in our environment. So, messing with the clocks messes with the natural order of things. How typically human.

It is also typically human to assume that a small change in something won’t really affect anything else. Or, just because it doesn't bother YOU, then no one else must be affected by it either. You know, just a small tax increase here and an a few pennies’ tax added on there won’t affect anyone really. You won’t even notice it. But the broader picture shows that slapping a few pennies’ tax on a few billion people equates to a whole lotta change. And while it may not affect YOU personally, some group, government entity or politician somewhere is going to benefit greatly from that little bit of change squeezed out of your pocket.

It’s also very interesting that there really haven’t been a whole lot of studies done on the effects of forcing people to follow a day that is completely unnatural.  However, there are a few intelligent, non-ostrich type people who seem to think more studies are needed to assess the long-term impact of forcing people to follow Dumb Stupid Time. Given the social deterioration in our country over many decades, I think it’s worth a look to see if there is any connection. Believe me, it is a very tenuous thread that connects me to sanity right now.
Despite the fact that approximately 1.6 billion people experience DST, he [Till Roenneberg of Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich, Germany] continued, few studies have investigated its impact on human physiology and behavior. The results of the few, relatively small studies that have addressed the question have generally suggested that sleeping patterns adjust within days.
In a large survey, which examined the sleep patterns of 55,000 people in Central Europe, Roenneberg's group now shows that the timing of sleep on free days follows the seasonal progression of dawn under standard time, but not under DST.
In a second study, they analyzed the timing of sleep and activity for eight weeks around each of the two DST transitions in 50 people, taking into account each individual's natural clock preferences, or "chronotypes," ranging from morning larks to night owls. They found that the timing of both sleep and peak activity levels readily adjust to the release from DST in autumn, but that the timing of activity does not adjust to the start of DST in spring, especially in those who like to stay up late and sleep in.
"While we generally think that the time changes enforced by the DST transitions are 'only an hour,' they have far more drastic effects if viewed in the context of the circadian clock's seasonal changes," Roenneberg said. "This seemingly small hour translates to a repeat of 10 weeks in the annual progression of the relationship between our sleep-wake cycle and dawn--four weeks in spring and six weeks in autumn. In effect, it's as if the entire population of Germany, for example, is transported to Morocco in spring and back again in autumn."
Indeed, "after taking the seasonal adjustment into account, our results show that the human circadian clock does not adjust to the DST transition," Roenneberg said. "This is especially obvious in the late chronotypes in spring when one looks at their daily activity patterns. Essentially, their biological timing stays on standard, winter time, while they have to adjust their social schedules to the advanced clock time throughout the summer."
*Reference:  Kantermann et al.: "The Human Circadian Clock's Seasonal Adjustment Is Disrupted by Daylight Saving Time." Publishing in Current Biology 17, 1--5, November 20, 2007. DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2007.10.025
The researchers include Thomas Kantermann and MyriamJuda of Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich; Martha Merrow of University of Groningen in Haren; and Till Roenneberg of Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich.
[Source: Science Daily]
All the underlining and red font color above is my doing. Finally, proof that it’s not really all in my head. You see, I’m a night owl. I’ve had to pretend not to be since having children, and it’s very, very, very hard. I hate getting up early in the morning. I want to wake up with the sun, not in the dark…although I do love the quiet before the kids are up, the quiet in the deep, dark hours of the night is what I crave.

So, all my crabby, groggy, hung-over-ness is not because I’ve talked myself into it, it’s because it is COMPLETELY UNNATURAL TO MOVE THE CLOCK FORWARD IN THE SPRING AND MY BODY DOES NOT ADJUST TO IT. If your body does, then good for you. Mine, however, does not. And I will never like Dumb Stupid Time because (see the list of reasons above, if you missed them) it completely goes against my nature.

So, yes, you are right…it IS all in my head…just not the way you think.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

No Longer a Rebel Without a Cause

rebel girl
I'll do what I want, thank you very much
I’ve been a rebel as long as I can remember. In my younger days, rebelling against the status quo, against being “good”, against any kind of authority. And, in particular, against anything having to do with God. Sin was something to be proud of, not avoid. And I didn’t avoid much sin, truth be told. I realized today that God still uses rebellion to bring Him glory and to accomplish His purposes and plans on this earth, if you can believe that.

Eleven years ago, God used my tiny baby daughter to turn me back to Him. It wasn’t a Damascus Road conversion, more like turning a small ocean liner around really. It’s taken a while. But, it started with the realization that God loves me, no matter what.

And yet, I’m still a rebel.

If Main Stream Society does it, I probably don’t.  I do things like  drink raw milk and question the FDA and the Food Pyramid. I’m against vaccination. I homeschool. I believe many conspiracy theories are true, or at least contain more truth than fiction. And I don’t believe for a minute that the government really has my best interest at heart…or anyone’s for that matter. Well, aside from greedy, power-mad politicians anyway. I know there’s a few people in government who are truly good, patriotic people and are fighting against a corrupt system. But for the most part, there’s no difference between Republican and Democrat. There really is only a one-party system in America – the Politician Party.

I used to rebel just for the sake of rebelling. I lived for Sticking It To The Man. But, that really isn’t much of a cause. It’s selfish and immature. It’s based on emotional reactions. So, when I realized recently that I am still very much a rebel at heart, that concerned me. God doesn’t want us to rebel…he kicked Lucifer out of Heaven for rebelling, and a whole slew of angels for joining in with him.

In the last year or so, I have been walking through a sort of “crisis of faith”. I don’t doubt the basic principles of my faith – I still believe that The One God created the universe in six days, the Bible is His Word, and He sent His Son to die for my sin. One day I realized that I felt that God was asking me to put everything I’ve ever believed on the altar, so to speak. Or the chopping block, if that analogy works better for you. That was a scary thought, but I eventually realized that all I had to lose were things that weren’t true to begin with. And all I really cared about was Truth. So, I said “Ok God…I’ll do it. Here You go. Burn away all that is not Your Truth” and then waited for some awesome revelation.

And…I got >>crickets<<

That was disappointing, to say the least. But, God works in His own way, and on His own timetable. I kind of shelved the whole thing, and honestly, didn’t think much about anything spiritual. It was kind of nice, if I must say, to just not think about spiritual things for a while. I’ve had so many questions…so many things that just didn’t seem to add up or connect, and I could not reconcile them without concluding that the Christian faith was wrong, or at the very least, just another possibility to explain the world and life. Maybe all roads did lead to the same place.

Yet, I knew in my spirit that the basic tenets of my belief system were right. So, why were there so many things that seem to be contradictory? Why did the pieces not fit together nicely? Somehow, I came to see that my understanding of Scripture was very fragmented, disjointed, piecemeal. And trying to connect it all together was like trying to do a dot-to-dot puzzle where the dots were labeled 1 and 4, a and z, carrot and zucchini. Some of the dots could be connected because there were related to each other…numbers to numbers, vegetables to vegetables, but you couldn’t connect them all together to form a cohesive picture. Something was missing.

Whatever sparked that realization of my understanding of Scripture renewed my interest in the Quest for Truth. I realized that I could not possibly hope to understand the New Testament if I did not first understand the Old. And so, I started in the beginning. Genesis 1:1. But, I only got through four chapters before I was taken on a side trip. And it was there that I received the Awesome Revelation I’d been waiting for. I was on Damascus Road and didn’t even realize it.

I will go into it more in future posts…this one is getting long enough as it is. But, it suffices to say that as I journeyed down this side path, I could feel the veil being lifted from my eyes. Understanding began to explode – not only in my mind but in my spirit as well. I finally “got it.” I could see The Big Picture…because I understood what had been missing from my understanding of Scripture. It doesn’t change what I fundamentally believe…in fact, I have experienced a love for God in the last few weeks that is like nothing I have ever experienced before. I used to question whether I even truly loved God…but now, there is no doubt in my mind…or heart…or spirit…that I do. And I know He loves me back.

But, I’m still a rebel. 

I’ve purposed in my heart to walk down a path that is narrow. And not crowded in the least…in fact, it can be lonely at times. But when one does find fellowship with others on this path, it can be truly sweet and precious. And this time, I believe God is happy with my rebellion...because I’m not rebelling against Him.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Facing the Book

woman nervous at microphone
If there was a 12-Step Program for Facebook addiction, I probably might have found myself in a meeting some night.
Hello, my name is Dawn. I’m a Facebookie. I’ve been on FB now for two years. At first, it was great…it was new, exciting, lots of fun…but then after a while, it started to take over my life…
I would look out at the rows of cold, flesh-colored folding chairs filled with others who struggle with this addiction and be met with knowing glances, slight nods, maybe even that far-off look one gets when reminiscing on something Back In The Day.
…I started finding myself on FB in the strangest of places, like the shower (I just had to reply to something RIGHT THEN, it couldn’t wait)…
Smiles, giggles, murmured sharing of their own Strange Places. A silent understanding of the urgency a FB post can have that can strike anywhere, anytime.
It got to be that I couldn’t go anywhere without knowing I’d have the connection I needed to get my FB fix. My cell phone became permanently attached to me. And once I got that netbook…well, that was what pushed me over the edge really…
Dark clouds drift over the eyes watching me. They remember their own Edge. They remember what pushed them over. They despise me for reminding them.
 …One day, I had a fleeting moment of lucidity. I realized that the reason every dish, glass, fork and pan in the house was dirty, the reason everyone was out of clean underwear, the reason every day got so far away from me was because of it. Because of Facebook.
A few tears now, as they go from despising me to empathizing with me. They have been there too. That’s why they were here this night in the church basement on those cold, hard flesh-colored folding chairs, surrounded by cement block walls doused in ecru…as if a fancy name for “whitish” would actually take away the institutional feel of those walls.
I decided to quit.
Applause. A few “yeah!'”-s. For a brief moment, I was someone they could admire. I had made that tough decision to quit.
Cold turkey.
Gasps. Heart-clutching. One poor lady began to shake uncontrollably. I had moved beyond Nobility and into the Land of Absurdity. What? Who does that? Who just quits FB cold turkey?

I’ll tell you who does that. Someone who realizes that time is an irreplaceable commodity that must be managed well if anything meaningful is to come out of its use. Someone who realizes that clean dishes and underwear, while part of the mundane, are vital to good health and comfort. They are part of the background on this set in which we play at life. Someone’s gotta do it…and unless you can pay someone to do it for you, YOU need to do it or delegate it properly.

Ok, so maybe I didn’t actually attend a Facebookies Anonymous meeting in a cold, cement block walled church basement with flickering fluorescent lights…but the thing about the dishes was true. And there was one day that my three year old didn’t have any unders, because mama was too busy on FB to do the laundry.

And so, as of January 1, 2012, I cut myself off of FB. And in this last month, my kitchen has been clean most of the time (debilitating FB addiction aside, housework and organization and time management have never come easy to me…), the laundry is caught up, and I am able to enter my Father’s rest on the Sabbath. It’s a wonderful thing.

But so is FB and the internet. They can both have a useful purpose. Morphine, after all, is very useful in treating excruciating pain. But with anything that has the potential to become a life-controlling addiction, the key is to use them responsibly. And so, as I return to the land of FB today, I do so with some rules:
  1. I will not start my day off on Facebook
  2. If the dishes are dirty, NO FACEBOOK
  3. If anyone is out of any kind of clothing, NO FACEBOOK
  4. If my husband needs my attention or assistance, NO FACEBOOK
  5. If my children need my attention or assistance, NO FACEBOOK
  6. And, most importantly, if I haven’t spent quality time with my God today, NO FACEBOOK
Now, if everything is in order…my worship and work are done…then I will allow myself a reasonable amount of time on Facebook. I suspect I will have to use a timer…because time really has  a way of getting away from me. There is no Daytimer that can help me, trust me…

And if I find myself breaking the rules and my family comes to me hungry and naked as I sit at my computer completely absorbed in Facebook…I will have to cut myself off again, only the next time it probably ought to be permanently. Serving my Creator, my family and life in all it’s unpredictable bliss are far more important.

Really. I’m very sure of that. I think…be sure to watch my FB wall in case I change my mind (; And, if you see me on Facebook, don't be afraid to ask me if the dishes are done or if my family is running around naked.

Check for Swagcodes Here!

Integrity is a Lost Virtue, but I Choose to: