Friday, January 30, 2015

Do You Have Too Much On Your Plate?

We've all heard it before.  Life is crazy.  And beautiful.  We all have what feels like 10 million things going on all the time.  It's just part of being human.  It might have looked a bit different a hundred years ago, but we always have something to do.  The question then becomes how much is too much? It depends on the person.  My hubby often tells me that I have too many things going on.  

"I don't know how you can possibly do all that," he tells me.  

I have a beautiful friend of mine that has a busy dental practice.  If anyone were to be an I-can-do-500-things-well-simultaneously kind of person, I would guess it would be her.  While discussing my hubby's comment to me, she confessed that she is most assuredly not that kind of person.  She said she can have 3 things on her plate at a time.  If you throw a 4th thing at her, then the whole plate tips over, but she has employees that can do 10 different things at once and keep track of them all.  I believe it's how we're made.  God knew what He was doing to create us all different.  There would be no variety if we were all the same.  How boring!  Even if we were all creative, but made the same, it would be boring.  We would all create the same painting, or write the same story over and over again.  In other words, we're different on purpose.

I'm a 10 things on my plate kind of person.  Like I said before, my hubby is definitely a 3 things on his plate kind of person.  Neither is right or wrong.  It's just how our brains function.  But we need each other.  I need him to help me make sure that I don't get 50 things going on my plate, because that would push me over.  He needs me to help support him when he does get 4 things on his plate.  All these activities and goings on can make life feel a little stormy sometimes.  Don't wait for the storm to pass!  Learn to dance in the rain.  The rain is life.  Go live it!

What type of person are you and, if you are married or in a relationship, does your other half share this quality with you or balance you out?  If you're similar, how do you keep from getting off kilter? Comment below.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Size Matters

A fair portion of my business is creating expressions for homes and businesses.  People tell me what they want it to say, but feel intimidated by the actual creation of the project.  Let's talk about that for a minute or two.  I don't have a degree or special training in graphic design, but I do have a good eye for it.  That's mostly come through practice and being honest.  

Practice is easy to get.  Just do it.  Over and over and over again until you are satisfied with the result. I must say that sometimes I have to set a time limit or I will work for 4 hours on something that I will only make $10 on.  That's not working smart, but the perfectionist in me wants to keep trying different things.  Being honest takes a bit of practice, too, but people always tell me they appreciate when I'm honest.  That doesn't mean that I am brutal or cruel to them.  It just means I tell them I don't care for that combination as much because of _____ reason.  I use that a lot at my day job, too. During the day, I am an optician.  (I'm not an eye doctor--that's optometrist.  They're often confused.)  In addition to doing repairs and adjustments, I help people pick out the eyeglass frames that they will wear for the next year or two, or more.  No pressure.  If they change their mind later on their frame choice, I will either hear about it for the next 2 years, or they won't come back to see me again. Either is not an appealing choice to me.  That honesty thing is critical.  If I tell someone that something fits well and looks nice when it really doesn't, then I'm doing them and me a disservice.  If I tell someone a color combination looks good on their wall and it really doesn't feel good, they won't recommend me to their friends and I will not continue to have a business.  So let's look at some guidelines I use when helping someone design an expression.

Size.  Size matters, no matter what men say, size matters.  Here's a picture of an expression I have over my couch.

This is one of my pre-designed expressions.  My size choices were 12" x 18", 16" x 24", or 21" x 31".  I went for the large size on this one.  There are a couple reasons.  First, I wanted to make a bold statement of our faith.  Guests see this wall right when they walk in the door.  If I would have chosen the 12 x 18, it wouldn't have been a big, bold statement.  It would have been a nice little picture sized expression and not a bold statement.  There's nothing wrong with being more subtle--it's just not what I wanted for this expression.  

My rule of thumb for size is to look at the whole wall space.  Are there going to be other pictures around this expression, or will it stand alone?  Do you want it to be the focus of the wall space or just an accent?  If you want it to stand alone and be the focus, then you want to go bigger, but not too big.  Leave room around the expression or expression & pictures for there to be a "frame" of wall color.  Too small and it will get lost, especially if it's by itself.  Usually, up to about 2/3 of the space can be used for one picture or expression.  If it's over a bed, don't go the whole length of the headboard.  Leave space on either side.  If it's over a door way, don't go the whole 36 inches wide, Go about 24 inches wide leaving 4 inches on either side to provide balance and a "frame."

I know all that seems pretty simplified, but it doesn't have to be complicated.  KISS!  Keep it simple, Sweetheart!

In the meantime, what message or feeling do you want to convey when people enter your home?  Comment below.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Get It All Done!

As long as I'm alive, I don't think I'll get everything done that I need to get done.  There's always something that needs doing.  That's a good thing, right?  Some things are more important than others. The kids to need to eat...everyday even.  Who knew?  (Hopefully you caught the sarcasm there.) My husband likes to wear clean socks.  After all, you can only turn socks inside out 1 time.  Underwear can go at least 2 times, though...inside out, front to the back, etc.  totally kidding. (See "Laundry Today or Naked Tomorrow" from last week.) We all need to do laundry sometimes.

The truth is we all have a lot going on.  As I write this, I work a full time job outside the home, I have a growing business, I have a family that is growing up (though not growing in number!), a husband, a home (that is still being remodeled), a blog that I just started, a quickly approaching black belt test to study for, a small group Bible study...and the list goes on and on and on.   But I love it!  It's all hard.  I'm not going to pretend for a second that it's always easy.  I do say no to some things.  I have a wise friend tell me once that my yes's mean more when sprinkled with no's.  (I really don't say yes to everything--even though my husband might think so.)  I've heard John Maxwell say that a big part of being successful is learning to manage several things happening at the same time.  It doesn't automatically make you successful if you have a lot going on, though.  Sometimes it's just being busy to be busy.

Sometimes we need to give up the pressing to deal with the important.  That's what I think this expression is talking about.  Mopping floors and cleaning overs are things that should be done from time to time, but it's more important to take time to be with our kids.  Sometimes we need to let the floors get a bit dirtier than we'd like them to be, the dirty dishes get stacked a bit higher than is probably safe, and the trash a little smellier than we'd like to have in doors...but our kids will feel loved because we went to the park for a bit, we read a book together, or we cooked a meal together.

I honestly feel most happy as a family unit when we're doing chores together.  When I was growing up, we had horses.  One thing I used to do was to go clean corrals with my mom after school.  We raked.  We scooped.  We talked.  When I'm cooking dinner and my kids are unloading the clean dishes, we're just being a family.  We're loving each other as we serve each other.  We're laughing and hanging out and just getting to know each other.  This is just a season.  Sooner than I'd like, my kids will be out of the house and on their own.  When that happens I'll be glad I took the time to hang out with them now.  I love this clock set as a reminder of that.

How do you like to spend time/love with your family?  Comment below.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Laundry Today or Naked Tomorrow

 Jen's Walls Talk

Sometimes I get behind on laundry.  Ok...often I get behind on laundry.  Right now there are 3 rather large piles of clean laundry on my floor in the family room.  I'm endeavoring to let go of my control in order to allow my kids the opportunity to learn how to do it themselves.

I relinquished control quite some time ago on them putting their own clothes away.  Yes, they probably aren't hanging all the shirts facing the same way like I would do.  (The clothes just feel better to look at when they all face the same way.  Don't you think so, too?)  Yes, the clothes might even be slightly wrinkled because they are not folded *just so* before they put it in their drawers.  (My theory on this is even if you don't pull it out of the dryer right away, if you fold it right, all the wrinkles will be pressed out of it before you actually wear it...well, most of the wrinkles.  I don't iron except once every 5 years, so I'm good with most of the wrinkles being gone.) But the kids aren't learning to take care of themselves properly without some guidance.  Someday--much sooner than I'd like--they will be out on their own, and they will not be coming back home for Mom to do their laundry.  I just don't play that game.  Never the less, laundry needs to be done on a regular basis.

I can't say that I love doing laundry, but I do enjoy not stinking.  It just has to be done.  At this point, I could go a couple different directions.  I could tell you to just "Suck it up, Buttercup!" which I do like to say from time to time.  However, a nicer, more loving way to go about this is to remind you (and myself) of the words found in Colossians 3:17.

"And whatever you do, 
whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus
giving thanks to God the Father through Him."

Give thanks for doing laundry?  Yep.  I'm pretty sure that "whatever you do" covers laundry and all sorts of other not-so-fun activities, but it also covers the fun stuff.  So be thankful for time to spend with your kiddos--even in the simple things.  Take time to go play at the park with them...and not just watch from the bench.  Actually play with them.  Have fun!  Be thankful for laundry, and dishes, and vacuuming.  Here's a nicer way to remind yourself:

 Jen's WallsTalk

Our loved ones are nearby, for what seems to be a rapidly shortening time.  Care for them, teach them, love them well, and teach them to do laundry so they don't end of naked tomorrow.

What struggles or chores are you thankful for in your family?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Find Motivation That Lasts

Motivation is a funny thing.  When I first feel the zing of a new idea, I am completely energized.  I could go out and conquer the world in that split second that I feel that zing.  I fall in love with this new baby idea and it grows new ideas and spawns beautiful dreams.  The sky opens up and a beam from heaven shines down on me.  Angels sing and birds chirp!  You hear me.  Those of you that are idea people know just exactly what I'm talking about.  It could be a really good idea, too.  This is the one.  People will come clammering to you in droves...And then you have to do the dishes, or change a load of laundry.  In other words, life on planet Earth comes back into the forefront of your mind.  

I still like my idea, but it will have to be dealt with later.  It's definitely roller coaster-like in the way it shoots me to a high and then drops me down and makes my stomach drop out.  I love this idea!  Now I have to work at it to make it happen.  I don't dislike work.  In fact, I really can't sit still for too long before I need to go do something.  That "something" might be any number of things, though.  

Just stay on this motivational high!  

Go do it!  

Make this dream happen!  And then I fall off the motivation wagon, again.  All this is to say that I need motivation all the time.  Motivation is short lived and fickle.  That's why I love my business.  It's words.  It's motivation.  It's in your face...and on my walls...and on a canvas...all over my house.  This is my latest creation.

This is on a shelf right by my front door.  I read it before I go out the door--everyday.  It takes discipline to go out the door and work at my dreams.  It takes work to change the "I can't tell people about my inspiring business" into "I can talk to everyone about my inspiring business." I put my motivation right in front of me, on purpose.  I won't be "up" all the time.  That's just not how life works.  Jesus told us in John 16:33, "Ithis world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” So I choose to put "up" reminders in front of my face to remind me that I can do it.  Jesus has already overcome the evil this world.  I no longer need to listen to the negative reminders from the enemy.  I'm getting on with the dreams that God has given to me.  I changed my can'ts into cans and my dreams into plans.

To have motivation that lasts, I realized that I there will be ups and downs.  I just can't stay down.  I need to look around me.  Look at my beautiful kids and my amazingly patient husband.  Look at the gifts God has given to me, and put those into words to motivate me.  I need to verbalize why I am doing this.  I need to verbalize what it is I'm doing.  I need to remind myself of these things daily...and then go do it.

Just a little aside here...dealing with ups and downs in life is normal, but it's very different from dealing with actual depression.  That is something that needs to be dealt with in a more direct way: a doctor's prescription, counseling, etc.  Those are tools to help you get back on the road to living your life--ups, downs, and everything in  between.

If you'd like to purchase this expression for your space, or to see a myriad of others, go here.
If you'd like to customize your own expression, go here.

What motivates you to stay consistently working your dream?  Comment below.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Are Your Words Gracious?

I love words.  They are so powerful!  They can encourage.  They can bring hope.  They can inspire you to action.  They can also be devastating, heart breaking, and de-motivating.  The Bible says it this way in Proverbs 16:24.

"Gracious words are like honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." What a soothing image that creates in my mind.  Can you see it?  Sweet words coming out of a dear friend's mouth to encourage you.  A hand outstretched, the golden words drizzling on it, and then being absorbed into the soul.  A glowing light then shines out of you.  Gracious words build us up.  They help us grow. I'm not talking about superficial, insincere words.  Empty flattery.  That's not it at all.  I'm talking about true, gracious and uplifting words.

A few days ago, it dawned on me that I  try to be uplifting and encouraging to my friends and co-workers, but then I'd come home and be critical and only half-way positive with my kids and my husband.  

"Thank you," for taking the trash out, and "why didn't you get the rest of your chores done??" I was barely praising them for the good they did.  I was criticizing for what didn't look like perfection. Ouch.  My goal is to inspire people.  What good does it do if I inspire others and don't measure up at home?  So I decided to do an experiment.  On their chore board, (this is the one I use) I wrote a brief, encouraging and truthful message.  Here's what it looked like:

Both my kids are strong willed.  Surprise!  What else could really come from a very strong willed mom (Me!) and an often stubborn dad?  Sometimes being strong willed can have a negative connotation.  BUT it could also be called underdeveloped leadership--just like I'm not bossy...I'm directionally gifted.  (It's all in how you look at it.)  Since this chore chart day, we've been working on leading well.  When we were at karate and my son was tempted to goof off more than he listened, I reminded him to lead well.  I believe that felt better to him than, "Set a positive example!  You're a green belt!"  My daughter has been taking the lead in a different form.  She is doing chores without being asked.  She scrubbed my glass top stove and the inside of the microwave without being asked.  IT'S WORKING! 

I don't claim to have all the answers or to be a perfect parent or family.  We're definitely not perfect. However, each day we are given a choice in how we respond to those around us and how we interact with them.  We can encourage them and give helpful tools, or nag them to the point of nothing positive coming out of their mouths anymore.  I'm choosing to intentionally work on being positive. 

What word choices will you make today?

P.S.  If you are wondering why one of their listed chores is "write down all chores," then let me explain a bit.  We do Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace Junior with our kids.  They get paid commissions instead of a set allowance.  The trick is they only get paid for what they do AND record.  It's just like being a grown up at a job where I don't get paid if I don't clock in, or I don't get paid my spiffs unless I figure them up and turn them in.

P.P.S. Don't you love the "Gracious Words" wall expression pictured above?  Me too!  It's one of my favorites.  If you are interested in getting one of your own, go here.  This particular expression I could only get for being a hostess.

I'd love to hear how you keep it real and positive with your family!  Comment below.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Why I Wanted to Quit Crossfit

If you've ever done crossfit, then you know it's hard.  If you haven't done a crossfit workout, then just know it's hard.  It's not just hard, it's really hard.  When a new person starts, I always tell them that they will hurt in places they didn't know they had.  Up until this time, you have taken sitting down on a toilet for granted.  No more, my friend.  It becomes a "Ok, I can't wait any longer, but I know it's going to hurt, but I really need to go potty, so here comes the squat...OUCH!...and just fall onto the toilet" kind of experience.  Now doesn't that just inspire you to run right out to the closest box (that's what we call a crossfit gym) and join??  I know.  Not so much.  But it's good pain.  Moving on to the quitting thing.

My local crossfit gym is relatively young.  It's coming up on 4 years old.  I've been going since it first opened because it was a friend of mine that opened it. ( Of course I'll be a good friend and support you in this crazy.)  That's just the kind of person I am.  I'm very loyal to people and to concepts when I have taken ownership of them and called them my own.  That in itself is not enough to keep me going to crossfit, though.  It can be super painful--both physically and mentally.  Monday was one of those painful mental days.  It happened to be a longer workout.  It was 4 rounds of what felt like 500 different exercises.  It was so long and almost everyone else had finished.  The next class was coming in already.  It just felt like I would never be done.  I really wanted to quit.  Three rounds was still a great workout.  Right?  I don't want to mess up everyone else's schedule for the rest of the day because I was slow.  I'm just being generous to quit a few minutes early.  This is the game that goes on in my head.  It happens most every time I work out.  Here is the super cool part: even though I want to quit on a regular basis, I don't.  I've gotten in the habit of finishing.  Is it easy?  Definitely not.  It's a choice to quit and it's a choice to finish.  So even though I am still consistently one of the slowest people at my box, I still go.  I still finish.  I'm not there for everyone else.  I'm there to be healthy and strong for me.  I choose to.

Here's how I count sets of 10: I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME.  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

What choice will you make today?

rebeccalovesrunning:    There we go, my new shoes and I are all ready for whatever the trail or life has to offer to us. :)
I borrowed this one from run for life.  I love it!

Monday, January 12, 2015

I Am Strong.

We're all strong...just in different ways.  The Good Lord made us to be different on purpose.   It would be a boring world indeed if we were all the same.  It's truly amazing to think that we are made in the image of our Creator.  He has all the characteristics that each of us individuals have a small piece of.  

Recently, I have had the stellar experience of taking the Gallup Strengths Finder test.  It's not that I don't know anything about myself.  In fact, I would say I'm a pretty "self-smart" kind of person, to borrow a phrase from Kathy Koch.  However, to have an explained version what of what it is that I do is validating and freeing.  

Let me explain.  One of my strengths is that I am a Learner.  I love learning.  A characteristic of being a Learner is that I like to read.  I always felt in the back of my mind that I was searching for something, that something was wrong with me, that somehow I wasn't satisfied with my life.  That's not the case at all.  I just like to learn.  I am not a maven.  I'm not an expert on anything specific, but I like to know a little bit about a lot of things.

I'll share more about what I learned as this journey continues.  In the meantime, what is your biggest strength (from Gallup or otherwise learned)?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Who Am I?

I love this song below by Casting Crowns.  It's really beautiful.  Nothing I do can make me have value.  I have value because I am a human being.  I have value because God made me.  I have value because the Creator of the universe gave me value.  Does that mean that I don't have to do anything because I already have value?  Nope.  Work is a gift. 

 I thought it was really interesting when I learned a while back that God gave us work before the fall of man in the Garden of Eden.  (Check it out in Genesis 2:15.  The fall doesn't happen until Genesis 3.  How 'bout them apples?) Work looks like a lot of different things.  As I record my journey on this blog, you are going to see the different things I work at.  It's not just my job.  It's my business.  It's my karate studies.  It's being a mom and a wife.  It's being a friend.  Welcome to my life.


Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name,
Would care to feel my hurt?
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart?

Not because of who I am
But because of what You've done.
Not because of what I've done
But because of who You are.

I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow.
A wave tossed in the ocean.
A vapor in the wind.
Still You hear me when I'm calling.
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling.
And You've told me who I am.
I am Yours, I am Yours.

Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love and watch me rise again?
Who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me?

Not because of who I am
But because of what You've done.
Not because of what I've done
But because of who You are.

I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow.
A wave tossed in the ocean.
A vapor in the wind.
Still You hear me when I'm calling.
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling.
And You've told me who I am.
I am Yours.

Not because of who I am
But because of what You've done.
Not because of what I've done
But because of who You are.

I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow.
A wave tossed in the ocean.
A vapor in the wind.
Still You hear me when I'm calling.
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling.
And You've told me who I am.
I am Yours, I am Yours, I am Yours.

Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I fear?
'Cause I am Yours, I am Yours.

Click here to hear the song.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Sister! Sister!

Today is my sister's birthday.  For that matter, it's her hubby's birthday, too.  So I thought it fitting to start with Dena.  You have no idea the amount of yuck this girl has gone through (and it's really not my place to share that), but suffice it to say it's a lot.  She has come through on the other side with flying colors.  She is an amazing mama (check out her crew below!) and a great wife.  Dena, you inspire me to never stop! AND she's beautiful.  Thank you for inspiring me.  Happy birthday!  Who inspires you?  Comment below.

Here It Is

It's a new year.  While I don't especially like New Year's resolutions because I think everyday is a new day and a chance to start fresh, it does provide a nice starting point for new endeavors.  This is mine.  My business is all about inspiring.  I understand that is a pretty vague statement and can be interpreted in any number of ways.  My goal is to inspire you to do whatever it is that you do and to do it better than you did the day before.  In doing this, I hope to create a resource for you draw encouragement from and to share with others.  I will be sharing things that inspire me and that I like.  I will be offering tips for using my vinyl expressions (that are created at my amazing corporate headquarters of Uppercase Living).  You'll meet people in my life that inspire me.  You'll probably see me mess up a bit, too, but that's why it's a journey and not a one time event.

I'm excited for you to embark on this journey me!  Grab a cup of coffee, or tea if you prefer, and a comfy chair, and let the journey begin.  Welcome.

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