Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Lonely Place Called Overtime

It’s been so long since my last post I’m not sure I remember how to write one anymore.  Let me start by apologizing to you, my readers.  It was not my intent to leave you hanging for the last two months with nary a post!

I confess...I succumbed to the seedy underbelly of the work world…overtime…and lots of it! 

It’s a club few people want to join, but many are dragged into.  The atmosphere is oppressive.  The dim glow of laptop screens reflect the despondency in bulging eyes, peering out of faces gone pallid from lack of sunlight.

Bodies, bloated with high carb intake, and jacked up on caffeine, slump in office chairs.  No one makes eye contact.  This is a cold, dark, lonely place where people wither and die inside.

OK, so maybe it wasn’t THAT bad, but it wasn’t good.  It’s hard to find a balance between putting in enough time to do your job well, and sacrificing your personal life and health to make it happen.

I should know better.  I’ve hit the proverbially brick wall before – working myself so hard that I ended up with stress induced asthma and heart palpitations.  But I push, optimistic that I can create more hours in a day.  (There really are only 24, you know.) 
 
I trade sleep for work; working until midnight, then getting up at 5:30 to exercise.  I trade quiet time with God for stress time with my computer.

Soon I trade exercising in favour of getting to the office earlier to work more.  Next I trade healthy eating in favour of binging on chocolate and carbs to energize my sleep and exercise deprived body.

I crave tea before I even got to work in the morning.  I find my eyes drooping at red lights and think, “Maybe I could close them just for an instant.”  I’m bone-tired exhausted on the drive home.  Then I do it all over again.

And that’s where I’ve been for the last two months.  But it’s a twisted, unhealthy lifestyle!  This week is about finding balance.

I’ve designated time with God – it’s booked in my Outlook calendar as a meeting…Lunch With God! 

I’ve gone back to running on the weekends, and set my baseline weigh and measure at Curves. (That was a disturbing visit!)  Chocolate now is a treat instead of a prescription.  I'm focused on being in bed by 10:00 every night.

Yesterday I left the office at 4:30 and was home by 5:10.  I had an evening to make soup, chat with my husband, play with the cats…and start a blog post.  It was amazing!  I know it doesn't sound like much, but it was a huge accomplishment in my world!  My goal is to have more of those nights.

You’ve heard about burning the candle at both ends.  Let me say this, you can do it for a while, but sooner or later your fingers get burned and then the flame goes out.  Stop the madness before your flame goes out.

Is your life an unbalanced, out of control mess?  Is it time to set boundaries and reclaim your personal time?  Share your thoughts by clicking on "comments" below.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Navigating the Fog of 2014

Have you set any goals for 2014?  I’m not talking New Year’s resolutions, already buried in the dusty repository in your mind labeled “Good Intentions”.

I’m talking about REAL, honest to goodness goals.

What’s the difference?

Well, in my opinion, a resolution is an ideal we’d like to reach that rarely has any logical steps for achievement attached to it.

A goal, on the other hand, is a well-defined objective with a step by step road map of how to get there within a specific time frame. 

If you read any material on goal setting you’re quickly introduced to S.M.A.R.T. goals. 

S – specific – goals need to be well-defined

M – measurable – set a quantifiable measurement so you know when you achieve your goal

A – achievable – don’t set yourself up for failure.  Be realistic when setting your goal.

R – relevant – make your goal relevant to your life and what YOU personally want to accomplish

T – timely – give yourself a specific time frame to reach your goal

Why set goals? 

Starting off the year without a goal is like driving after dark in “pea soup” fog.  You creep forward a fraction of a kilometer at a time, eyes desperate to pierce the thick cloud that blinds you with reflected brilliance from your headlights.  It’s a slow crawl to your destination…if you get there at all.

Without a goal to work towards you’re driving blind in the fog that is 2014.  Life comes at you fast and furious, and if you don’t define goals early on, you find yourself sitting in the cold, dark belly of December wondering where time went.

I know we’re already playing peek-a-boo with March, but it’s not too late to set your goals.  You still have ten months to make them reality.  A lot can happen in ten months. 

Not sure what to work towards? 

I like to set four different types of goals…

Personal – by the end of 2014 I want to migrate my blog to a self-hosted website and have compiled two e-books in pdf format from previous blog posts – one devotional book, and one of blog recipes.

Fitness – I want to run 5 km in 30 minutes.

Professional – by the end of 2014 I want to have a stable team of six sales people billing at goal level and I want to have read (or attended) a minimum of three different books (or workshops) that will equip me to become a better manager.

Spiritual – I want to spend time reading the Bible and praying EVERY day.  It doesn’t have to be a long time, but it has to be dedicated time when I am focused ONLY on God.

Goals don’t have to be monumental.  They don’t have to rock the world.  They don’t even have to shake your neighborhood.  They just need to be something important to you.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
Have you set goals for 2014?  If not, why not?  Set them now.

Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Work + Health = Wealth + Joy

It’s Sunday afternoon, unwelcome thoughts of work invade your mind.  Your body tenses.  You pray for a minor natural disaster, for time to stop, or the world to end…anything to stop Monday from coming.  None of these events transpire.

The alarm rings, you attempt to burrow your way to oblivion in the mattress.  You fail.  You have to go to work.

Ever felt this way?

I came across an interesting verse in Ecclesiastes the other day that I thought I’d share.

"It is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it.  To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life - that is indeed a gift from God.  People who do this rarely look with sorrow on the past, for God has given them reason for joy"   Ecclesiastes 5:19-20 NLT

Work?  A reason for joy?  Well, let’s see…

Do I want to get up and go to work every day?  No, not really
Are the days stress filled?  Yes, most of the time
Do I work long hours that eat into my free time?  Yes
 
Here’s a reality check.  The “perfect” job doesn’t exist.  There are pros and cons to every work place.  The truth is most days my job as Sales Manager for a Christian radio station is crazy busy and filled with challenging scenarios. 

But with any job (and every situation) you have a choice.  You can choose how you view it. 
 
I can choose to see the long hours and hard work as drudgery that eats into my free time. 
Or...
I can choose to see the positive difference the hours I work make in the daily life of the people who report to me, and indirectly the positive impact my contribution to the company makes in the daily lives of the people who tune in every day to listen to our radio station.

I choose the latter.

I know it’s a huge struggle to be content in life’s circumstances.  And quite frankly a lot of people never make it to that point.

But like I said earlier… in every situation you choose. 

What about the health part of this scripture?  Here’s a simplistic example from my life this past weekend…

Right now glaciers of ice coat the streets and sidewalks, waiting to work their treachery on unsuspecting pedestrians.  I fell victim to one on Sunday…literally…crashing down in a flurry of flailing limbs to end up sprawled ungracefully on the sidewalk.

Today I feel like I started a new workout routine.  Muscles are tight and sore, but here’s the thing.  I’m grateful my body is able to absorb a fall like that.  I didn’t end up in the hospital with broken bones.  I can move around and still go for a run.  I choose the view point that it could have been a lot worse.

Wealth…

I realize Solomon is right, to have good health to enjoy life is a rare gift and it is to be cherished.  It is wealth.  A job that puts food on the table, a roof over my head, gas in the car, and clothes on my back is not to be taken for granted.  It is a blessing…a source of wealth.

Good health, good work, a wealth of blessings.  Choose to be grateful for what God gives.  This is the start of a joy-filled life.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

Do you need an attitude adjustment?  Try looking at life from a different perspective by asking this question…What can I be grateful for in this situation?  Make a choice to see the positive.

Looking for some other posts on leading a contented life?  Check out...
 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Easy Meringue Dessert

 Looking for a light dessert for your New Year's dinner party?  One that doesn't require a lot of effort, but looks and tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen creating the concoction?  Look no further.  This easy to make, decadent dessert will leave your guests asking for seconds. 

It's best to make the meringues the evening before, then put the layers together the morning of your dinner.  This gives the flavours time to blend.






STEP 1 - MERINGUE BASES

4 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup white sugar
1 tbsp. cocoa

Line two flat cookie sheets with tin foil.  Draw an 8" diameter circle on both pieces of tin foil.  Lightly grease the inside of the circles.  Heat oven to 250 degrees F.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.  Gradually add white sugar, beating until egg whites become very stiff.  Sift cocoa over top and fold in with a spatula.

Spoon 1/2 of egg white mixture into each circle, spreading evenly around.  Bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees F.  Then turn oven off and let sit in oven for another hour.  Now remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

STEP 2 - CHOCOLATE FILLING

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tbsp. water

Combine chocolate chips and water in a small pot.  Melt over very low heat, stirring constantly until a smooth chocolate mixture is formed. 

Gently loosen each meringue from the foil.  Spoon half of the chocolate mixture onto the top of one meringue and spread evenly, then do the same with the second.  Try not to apply too much pressure when spreading as the meringues are fragile.

STEP 3 - TOPPING

2 envelopes Dream Whip (not whipped, just the powder)
1 cup milk
2 tsp. cocoa
1/2 pkg Skor bits (about 1 cup)

Put the Dream Whip powder, milk, and cocoa in a bowl.  Beat until stiff.  Fold in the Skor bits. 

Spread half the topping over the chocolate on each meringue.  Now gently lift and place one meringue on top of the other.  The meringue may collapse under the weight at this point, but it's OK.  It doesn't change the look or the taste.

Grate some chocolate over top for garnish.  Allow to chill in the fridge for six to eight hours before serving.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Child Born

"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)

"So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.  And she brought forth her first born Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.". Luke 2:7 (NKJV)

A prophesy and a fulfillment...the story of the birth of Christ, Son of God.  May it permeate your heart this Christmas and may you find peace, joy, and love.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Open Door Opportunity


The mercury drops outside our house and we shiver in the chill of the fall day, knowing winter lurks around the corner.  My husband and I sit on our front porch talking quietly, when we’re interrupted by the meow of a small, matted, starving cat. 

If you know me at all you know how this ends.  Winter is approaching and there’s a beautiful tiny orange cat outside who doesn’t stand a chance at temperatures below zero.  The adoption story is a long one, but suffice to say, against my better judgment, we took her in.
 

I researched proper methods to introduce new cats to a multi-cat household and for a number of weeks we lived with the gated cat community you see in the picture.  Yes those are baby gates extending from floor to ceiling!
 

Zeus and Phoebe, our resident cats, plotted on how to gain access to Jasmine, the new cat.  One morning after erecting the gates, I realized I forgot to shut the bathroom door; a door providing access to the rooms where Jasmine was barricaded. 
 
Zeus and Phoebe, so focused on the barrier in front of them, completely missed the opportunity to walk freely through the door and enter the barricaded area!
 
I think a little of this focused “cat nature” carries over into “human nature”. 

Are you so caught up in the stress of Christmas concerts, work parties, church pageants, and shopping that you don’t recognize an opportunity to connect with God when the door beckons wide in front of you?
 
Are you paralyzed by the “To Do” list, longing to connect with God but never quite getting there?

This is Advent; a time of reflection and preparation.  Lots of churches have open doors this season.  Don’t miss the open door opportunity.  Visit a church and spend time reflecting on the significance of this Christmas season.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Do You Know Me?

A few hours ago I was waiting in line to board a plane in the Edmonton airport.  A young couple with a little girl, about four years old, was at the gate.  The flight attendant decided to engage the girl in conversation and it went something like this…

“GOOD MORNIG SUNSHINE!!!!  How are you today?  Are you excited to get on the plane?” 

I tuned out for a bit until her comment, “You have fun now” signaled the end of the conversation. 

As the family moved down the boarding ramp into the plane the little girl turned back to the flight attendant, a puzzled look on her face.  In a voice only a child can achieve, pitched perfectly to carry across the boarding lounge and down the terminal, she looked at the attendant and asked, “Do You KNOW Me?”

Needless to say the entire boarding lounge completely lost it in laughter!  It was SO perfect!

Do you know me?  Perhaps that’s a question Jesus is asking this Advent season.  In the busy press of a crowded shopping mall Jesus stands quietly in the deserted corner, knocking at your heart, asking, “Do you know me?”

Do you REALLY know me?

In the craziness that is your pre-Christmas life I encourage you to make some time to ask yourself that question.

If you’re not sure, or you’ve lost touch with Jesus, read the Christmas story in Matthew 1:18 to 2:23 and Luke 1:1 to2:20.

Get reacquainted with:
  •  Jesus, the Baby
  • Jesus, the Word made Flesh
  • Jesus, the Miracle

Then continue reading through these gospels to get to know:
  • Jesus, the Man
  • Jesus, the Son of God
  • Jesus, the Saviour
  • Jesus, the Risen Christ
Do you know me?  Let the answer be, “Yes” to Jesus this Advent season.