Busy~

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I was born in 1959 ( I admit it!)   Life was lived a little differently back then.  All businesses closed at 5pm.  On Sundays everything, except restaurants and churches, were closed.  The opening of the store 7-11 was a big deal “back then” because no one opened that early or closed that late!! There were only 2 or 3 television channels and usually only one television in the house. Sports competitions only took place before or after school, never in the evenings or on Sundays.   These elements created some natural boundaries for family life.

Today life looks a lot different.  Business is always open via the internet and even locally stores remain open well into the evening.  TV shows are streaming day and night with or without a television, sports teams play late in the evening and all through the weekend, and we don’t really ever leave work because we carry the possibility of constantly working on our mobile devices.  There aren’t really any natural boundaries for family life.

I think some of the changes have been great – I can stay in touch with my family , friends, and even clients wherever I am; any time of the day.  I can easily shop at home and watch my favorite shows at my leisure! I can do my job from anywhere!  The downside is that these opportunities can also keep us too busy!

In his book “Crazy Busy” Kevin Deyoung  expresses this dilemma this way ” Our lives have no limits. In all our lifetimes we’ve seen an exponential expansion in the number of opportunities for children and adults, opportunities for leisure and for travel, opportunities for education,  there are endless opportunities for church and community involvements.  In this generation we even have opportunities to make a difference around the world. Opportunities are endless!  No wonder we are so busy!”

From young mothers to energetic entrepreneurs; busyness impacts the quality of life…even with the best of intentions.   I acknowledge that there are “seasons” where our schedules will be fuller than others; yet when these “seasons” become our lifestyle we  might need to make some fresh considerations.   In my 16 years as a Life Coach I have readily issued Permission Slips to leaders helping them to feel the freedom to re-group and re-fuel!  In order to live a healthy life full of rich relationships engaged in professions that we love, we all need to regularly assess our busy schedules making certain we are applying time and attention to areas that truly matter to us!

Is there a valuable relationship that needs your attention?  A hobby that needs to be dusted off? A book you’d like to read?  A gym membership unused? A bible that needs to be cracked open again? Pots and pans that could be used to create healthy meals? If you had a free day would you use it to catch up on work or would you grab an opportunity to engage in a cup-filling activity?  What guard rails might you need in your schedule?

After you assess these questions I give you a Permission Slip, today, to catch your breath! 🙂

It’s a Dilemma~

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“It’s so good to hear from you Dianna, I wondered when you might call!” Such heartwarming words…..right?  Well, Yes and No.  Over the years I have pondered a particular dilemma over and over again.  Probably we have all given this challenge some thought but we might not have taken time to “unpack” it…..

” Dianna, I’ve missed you but I know you are so busy”.  Such kind words….right? well, Yes and No.   How might you know that I am too busy for you? How might you find out?

See the dilemma?

Over the years I watched my parents invite so many, many people into their home–for meals, holidays, or for a small groups~ they enjoyed it all. But, I realized, as their daughter that IF they didn’t invite or reach out to others people would rarely reach back to them with invitations.  Hmmmm……why is that??  Were they unappreciated? No, I don’t think so .

I believe there are two types of people:  “Inviters” and ” those who wait to be invited”.Though there may be a few mid-range people, mostly there seems to be two camps. Truth be known, neither one is better than the other, just different.

If you are a person who waits to be invited then you may filter your relationships by being very mindful of what you assume another’s schedule might look like; you don’t want to impose yourself into the busy life of those you care for. However, you may find yourself hurt when you don’t hear from someone for a period of time, assuming they are just too busy for you.

If you are a person who finds it easy to invite others into relationship with you, to spend time or to send a card or phone call, you may filter your relationships by wanting to be certain that those you care for know you are thinking of them. However, you may find yourself hurt when that interaction isn’t returned the way you had hoped, you may assume that the relationship isn’t reciprocal.

For either style there are a some tips that might address some of the concerns that may arise:

1.  If you are one who waits to be invited, it is important to assume the best of those you love. Perhaps, once you realize this behavioral style is YOU, you can learn to stretch yourself to initiate connections, planning them seasonally or calendaring them, and begin to make new efforts to reach out to those who matter to you.

2.  If you are one who initiates and invites others into relationship, it is important to assume the best in those you love.  Once you realize this behavioural style is YOU, you will need to balance your expectations when you send a card, call, text, or gift. Not everyone responds in the same way.  Reach out with an open hand and heart assuming you have been a blessing even if you never get a response.  Reach out without expectation simply because it is in your heart to do so.

Why do I spend time addressing this? Because I hear the disappointments that can result from this dilemma all the time; I have experienced the disappointments and misunderstandings myself!!  If we understand our own natural style, address it, and gain understanding….well, I can only imagine we will be less offended, have less disappointment, and experience more joy in the giving or receiving in our relationships… THAT is my hope! 🙂

 

It’s About Making Time, Not Having Time~

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Life is busy.  Our days are filled with many meaningful activities.  Our time is divided between the needs in our homes, our children, places of employment,churches, community organizations, and IF we can fit it in, some time to exercise and care for ourselves.

We are daily, even hourly, connected to our computers or Smart phones; logging onto our mail, Facebook, Pinterest, news, or games throughout the entire day which eats up even more of our daily time spent.

So, what about taking time with friends and family members? How well do we fit in key times of connection to maintain on-going relationships with those that mean the world to us?  Do we tell ourselves we are too busy to make the time? Do we assume we’ll grab time when we can?  Think about this:

Just spending a little time with someone shows that you care, shows that they are important enough that you’ve chosen — out of all the things to do on your busy schedule — to find the time for them. And if you go beyond that, and truly connect with them, through good conversation, that says even more. Many times its our actions, not just our words, that really speak what our hearts feel. Taking the time speaks volumes!

Are you saying ” I’d love to but I really am too busy!”

  • Have five minutes? Send an email. It doesn’t take long to send an email to someone you care about, asking them how they are, wishing them a good day. And that little gesture could go a long way, especially if you follow it up over time with regular emails.
  • Have 10 minutes? Call them up. A phone call is an easy way to connect with someone. It’s conversation, without having to even get in the car!
  • Have 30 minutes? You might not get the chance to do this every day, but at least once a week, take 30 minutes to drop in and say Hello to someone you care about and just visit.(No Smart phone allowed)  It’ll be some of the best 30 minutes you’ll spend this week.
  • Have a couple hours? Grab coffee or go to lunch with a friend or loved one. Who among us doesn’t have a couple of free hours each month? Weekends, or evenings, there’s got to be a time that you spend in front of the TV or computer that could be better spent building rich relationships with those that matter to you.

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                                        Make it a priority to build rich relational connections into your schedule. Enrich your life while bringing value to those you love as well.  Don’t put it off assuming they will always be there. 🙂

Musings on Marriage~

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I am enjoying the privilege of leading a bible study with 6 precious young wives on the subject of marriage.  I am the leader of the study, yet I am a constant learner along with each one of them.  After almost 30 years of marriage I recognize that you never arrive at a PERFECT relationship.  Marriage is a process of growing and stretching through the many different seasons and changes in our lives.  Marriage is a committment to being a good friend~no matter what.

“Happily ever after is not a fairy tale. It’s a choice.”

In discussions about marriage some key issues continually come up:  communication, expectations, and forgiveness.  These areas can be where hurt and disconnect can be found. So, in light of this I wanted to offer a few thoughts that might serve to encourage you as you commit to building a rich, thriving marriage.

*   Active Listening:  taking the time to truly listen to your loved one, repeating back to them to see if you truly understood what they are trying to say, and them expressing how you imagine they might feel can bring clarity and empathy even if you don’t fully agree.  Everyone needs to have the freedom to express themselves; to be heard.  Practicing this kind of intentional listening will help build better communication and cause you to feel a greater connection to one another.

Balancing Expectations:  Have you ever thought through all the elements you may expect in your marriage?

  • To be able to talk everything through & find resolution
  • That we & our partner should never argue, fight or withdraw, always take care of each other & agree on everything
  • A wonderful sexual relationship, full of sexual passion
  • Each other to take their own responsibility for their own feelings, able to share love, rather than expect our partner to fill us up with their love
  • To have a lot of fun & easily laugh together
  • To have similar interests
  • Our partner to financially contribute
  • A certain level of contribution towards the household & childcare
  • Respect, admiration & deep trust
  • A relationship full of affection, holding, cuddling & kissing
  • To find each other infinitely interesting, look forward to being together & sharing ideas
  • Companionship
  • The same religious beliefs
  • Shared, common spiritual values

These elements are all good; however these areas can grow over time as the marriage matures, listening increases, and each individual grows deeper in their relationship with the Lord. Keep them as good goals but don’t expect perfection all the time.

“A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.”

Forgiveness:   We all need forgiveness.  We all have a bad day, make mistakes, and respond improperly.  In my early years of marriage I would hold onto those things that hurt or frustrated me.  When I would do this I could easily find myself irritated by the smallest things simply because I had a stockpile of things I’d not yet forgiven. The older I get the more I recognize the huge value in keeping a short record of unforgivenes.  Fact is, I need to be forgiven often too.

“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”

As you celebrate Valentine’s Day this next week may you embark on the richest year of marriage ever!

Tips to Successful Relationships~

Relationships matter!

Relationships can bring us our greatest joys and our deepest wounds. We can’t control how others choose to respond in their relationships with us, but we can establish our own ground rules for having and maintaining quality relationships.

Below are some thoughts to consider as you navigate the relationships in your life:

1.  Surround yourself with positive people- finding like-minded, positive people will fill your cup. Spending the bulk of your time with those who suck the happiness out of you is unwise and unhealthy.

2. Accept people just the way they are – Save yourself the needless stress of trying to change people who don’t want to change. Fight the urge to engage in fruitless conversations, rather look for areas where you can agree and show support.

3. Forgive people and move forward –  holding anger or bitterness affects us much more than the individual we have been hurt by.  Forgiveness is not saying “What you did or said was okay.”  It is saying “I’m not going to let what you did ruin my happiness or steal my joy.” It doesn’t mean you forget it simply means that you choose to let go.

4.   Do little things for those in your life –  A card, a visit, a gift, an email, a text. Simply take opportunities to connect with and appreciate those your care about.  We all feel a little more valuable when we realize that someone has been thinking of us.

5.  Talk a little less, listen a little more –  Our relationships will grow if we move away from being the talker and take the time to listen! A listening ear is the greatest gift we could give to those we love.

6.  Be Loyal – be the kind of person that believes the best about those you love. Everyone needs to know that someone “has their back”. Be that person.

7.  Pick your battlegrounds – don’t pick petty arguments. We aren’t always “right”.  Focus on the things that truly matter and let the small stuff go!

8.  Encourage and cheer them on –  be excited for those you love! Spur them on! Don’t look at their opportunities or dreams with the lens of what it will cost you, rather keep them the priority.

9.  Remember that everyone has baggage –  we all enter relationship with a suitcase filled with past experiences; successes, disappointments, hurts, etc.  Sometimes that “baggage” effects the relationship and needs to be addressed. However, using grace and understanding will always be the most fruitful approach.

10. Let go of friendships that are no longer healthy – some relationships can run their course and a necessary ending needs to take place. To force relationships to continue when the season is over can be exhausting and eventually more harmful than good.  Be willing to appreciate the relationship for what it was, and then release it and move forward.

Relationships are our most valuable assets and worth the effort to keep them strong and healthy! Test these tips out and see if they help create healthier interactions in your relationships. AND–Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

Will you really be here for the holidays?

I love this time of year as I gear up for all of my favorite holidays in the coming months.  I anticipate celebrations with friends and family, parties to host and attend, gifts to purchase, wrap, and deliver, & lots of food to prepare. I know it will be a full season of wonderful variables.

However, in the midst of a busy holiday season I am still working, writing, and carrying on with all the responsibilities I normally have on a day to day basis. I face the question; “How can I be fully present in this season rather than being so task driven that I actually miss the valuable moments that come my way? Every year I hear myself saying, “Goodness, the holidays went by so fast!

Whether you’re feeling totally overwhelmed or slightly frustrated as you anticipate the holiday season ahead, it’s easy to lose perspective about what’s most important and valuable to you–your relationships!

Truth is we all spend most of our time in the past or the future, rather than the present moment. What we end up doing is passing through today’s moments on the way to somewhere else and, in doing so, we miss the present moment. That’s how these meaningful memories can end up passing us by!

Benefits of Being in the Moment

  1. Increased enjoyment: We will find that we enjoy life more if we’re fully present rather than having our minds elsewhere. Food tastes better, I have more fun with my family, work is more enjoyable, and laughter is sweeter when I experience them UN-distracted!
  2. Reduced stress. Worrying about the past and future can give us stress. Choosing to give ourselves permission to slow down and focus on “Today” can alleviate the stress of past regrets and the uncertainties of the future.
  3. Better relationships. When we really commit ourselves to being with someone, to listening to them,we are being a better family member, friend, teammate, and even spouse. We have better conversations. We bond with those around us!

“Life brings simple pleasures to us every day. It is up to us to make them wonderful memories.” — Cathy Allen

Enjoy the coming months to the fullest. Slow down and intentionally choose not to be so “busy-minded” but rather give yourself permission to be fully present each day!

…and may this be a very special Holiday season for you!