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June, 2012

  1. Serendipity

    June 18, 2012 by 25hoursadaymom

    It’s weird when things dovetail. When they just fall out of the sky and land joined together, right in your lap. I like it and at the same time, it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up a little.

    I was thinking of doing a book review on here for a great book I recently read called The Power of Story, by Jim Loehr.  This is a fascinating form of self-help (I hate that term), personal growth book. It’s very oriented towards the corporate world, but the application is relevant to anyone.  The gist of the book is that our lives are stories, stories with multiple threads, such as fitness, spiritual life, relationships, work, etc.  The author continues the story metaphor throughout and towards the end, urges you to physically write one or more “new stories” for yourself in whatever area needs a new story. Being a writer, I am intrigued by this form of exercise. And yet, the 240-page book is sitting with a bookmark inserted at page 233, where I balked and hesitated about actually writing a new story or two. It is inexplicably hard to actually write a new story, especially when you know you’re writing it because you plan to make that story yours. The copy sitting on my nightstand is a library copy, due tomorrow, and I’m out of renewals. I think a secret place in me wanted the book to go back before I made myself write a new story.

    So, there I am, ignoring story, even while I’m telling myself in the back of my mind that that’s a great idea, a worthy goal, definitely something I need to do. I stroll into Barnes & Nobel, killing time (and clearly, needing another book to read about as badly as I need a side of bacon, having a wanna-read list as long as my arm and about 6 kindle books in the queue already). I meander over to the Christian section, thinking I want to read Seven Sacred Pauses. I spot a few books by Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, which I loved.  He has a book out called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, so I flip through and impulsively decide to buy it.

    Here’s where it gets weird. By page 39, Don says this, “…I wondered whether a person could plan a story for his life and live it intentionally.”  What you need to know is that is the exact premise of the book The Power of Story. The exact premise. Don continues to use this story metaphor in speaking about areas of his life he wants to get straightened out. He even has a chapter where he spoke to a friend of his about the story happening in this man’s family and the man abruptly decided to go build an orphanage in Mexico. Helping orphans. There’s a story I’ve had nibbling at the edges of my brain for about 10 years. More serendipity. Totally goes with Jen Hatmaker’s 7 as well.

    Someone Higher Up wants to tell some stories with me, I think. It’s weird and fascinating when coincidences line up this way. I feel like I have a sixth sense turned on, like I’m getting the “feelies” about something about to happen. It makes me excited, even as it scares me to death. I’ve followed these sorts of trails before and they haven’t always gone well. But then, maybe that was just Part I of a good story. I just need the courage to write the rest.

    -Danielle

     


  2. 7

    June 11, 2012 by 25hoursadaymom

    First – a quick update. Operation Quit Coffee is a total success. It’s not even registering as a big deal.  The only thing I can say gave me a twinge of regret was when I came down this morning and Blue Collar Guy had already got the stuff brewing – that is one seriously drooly smell, people!  But I made my tea like a good little girl and stepped away from the java.

    Second – my head is full. I went to the Life Point Church ladies’ Girls’ Weekend Out. We had Jen Hatmaker come speak. She is truly great. She debuted her new book “7” and spoke about some of the topics in 7.  Seven is about giving up 7 things in 7 different categories, over 7 months, one category per month.  She focused in particular on food, clothing, possessions and spending. (The other categories are Media, Stress, and Waste.) Right up my alley, folks! Totally something I preach all the time. (Why didn’t I have the brilliant idea to write the book, one wonders? But I digress…)

    The difference in what I say and what she says is that she is focused on helping the poor. So – when she looks at a closet crammed with clothing, she sees money that could have dug a well in Africa. I cannot profess to anything so nobel – so far. I am very bothered by greed, excess and waste, but I haven’t seen it much through the lens of those who couldn’t dream of such riches. My main schtick is that all this excess is a psychological burden, as well as an actual burden when you have to clean, store, stack, organize and move clutter. If it’s piled up in your closet, it’s piled up in your brain as well.

    She mentioned a couple of statistics that should seriously make you sick to your stomach, such as Americans spend 20 billion dollars a year on their pets. 12 billion dollars a year on makeup. Children starve over 80% of the world, while we buy rhinestone-covered collars for our Labradoodles. Little porcelain dog dishes that say “Princess” on them. It is ghastly.

    There are two things that are hard in this equation, though, and neither of them is difficulty parting with stuff (for me).

    1. I am not an entity unto my own. I’m not the main earner and I can’t make unilateral decisions on the management of money and belongings. So, even if I would happily sell my house, move into a micro-home and give away every thing that is not crucial for our survival, I have four other people who have their own opinions on the matter. It’s probably better in a way, because it’s not rare for me to get carried away with an idea and I might be dangerous to myself if left entirely to my own emotional judgement.

    2. Here’s the more substantial quandry: where do you draw the line? So, as I said, it is lucky that I have a line-drawer to whom I’m wed, because who knows what I might do otherwise, but even so – when is it just stupid to not buy something because it could go to the Ethiopians? I could live a perfectly fine life with half my clothing. Even if I only had 3 shirts and 2 pants, I would be better off than many in the world. What would be appropriate to do, then? Direct all the money I previously would have spent in a year on clothes to Ethiopia and just stick with a handful that are perfectly adequate? I don’t know. I don’t have that part figured out yet.

    Or consider the pet expenditures again. Now, being a die-hard pragmatist, there are no rhinestone collars on any animal here and I would never dream of owning a Labradoodle, which is essentially an overpriced mutt. Still, have dog, feed dog. I don’t go for fancy food, but I’m a step or two above Ol’ Roy from Walmart. Also, there are my dear, sweet kitties. They don’t need much, but I do provide Cat Chow, lest they step up the array of headless wildlife they trot into my garage. Even if I’m conservative in pet expenses, what does this mean I should be doing instead? Should I add up the couple hundred I spend a year and just send an annual check to some worthy cause? Should I rally up a bunch of other people to join me? (I’m not much of a rallier, though.) I guess I’m just asking if a teensy bit of good does any good at all. I just don’t know exactly how this fits or what this needs to look like for me.

    Don’t misunderstand me. I loved Jen Hatmaker and I loved her project and the resulting book. It’s creating the kind of back-of-the-mind irritant that does usually end up being something good, but I haven’t sorted it yet. I’ve been cryin’ about waste and wipes and water bottles for ten years, while wearing the same pair of jeans because it would make me sick to no end to pop into Buckle and drop a couple o’ Benjamins on PANTS for my BUTT. So – I just don’t know what to do with my pricked conscience that was already bleeding over waste in general and is now bleeding for actual living children who are indescribably destitute.

    I haven’t made my last mention of this, to be sure. I’m outta words for the moment, however.

     

    -Danielle


  3. The Top Five Most Useless Products

    June 5, 2012 by 25hoursadaymom

    This is not an exhaustive list, but as I flip through catalogs while I eat my lunch, it never ceases to amaze me that there could be a market for certain products. I’ll grant you – sometimes, they’re marginal. I can conceive that someone, somewhere with a lot of disposable income and endless kitchen cabinetry might want these things. Take for example, the Stuffed Burger Press.  I mean, okay, $14.95 is hardly a fortune and the kids might get a kick out of eating their burgers with the cheese pressed on the inside, rather than sitting conventionally atop the meat, but it should at least register before you click “Add to Cart” that this is hardly a kitchen must-have.  Still, there are a few products that it is seriously hard for me to conceive of any person coveting enough to buy. Here are my top five recently-encountered products that I find utterly useless*:

    1. Monogrammed Forged Steak Brand – If you are so vain that your steak needs to bear your initials, you need professional intervention.

    2. Adjustable Tablet Stand – Taking laziness to new extremes, because it’s so taxing to sit all the way up  while you use your iPad. All for the low, low price of $159.99  Plus, what happens when you foolishly flop down on the living room couch and begin browsing, only to recall that you left your convenient stand upstairs by your bed?

    Insta-Tall Max 2 Inch Adjustable Gel Lifts by Body Trends As Seen on TV

    3. Insta-Tall Max Heel Lifts – I’m not short of stature, so maybe I just don’t get it, but I can’t imagine anyone being so desperate to be a couple inches taller that they would find it acceptable to shove plastic lifts in their shoes. I’m sure nobody will notice your heel protruding 2″ up from the back of your penny loafers. How ’bout just live in the height the good Lord gave you? Sheesh.

    4. Meatloaf Starter – Meatloaf starter?  Because nobody can figure out the hard-to-come-by, top-secret ingredients of onions, green pepper, an egg, some cracker crumbs and a good fistful of ketchup? Why did people begin making meatloaf in the first place? It was to stretch ground beef inexpensively to feed a few more mouths. But the company hawking Meatloaf Starter wants you to pay $12.50 for their jarred version. Grandma would roll over in her grave.

    SodaStream Fizz Home Soda Maker

    5. Soda Stream Machine – Okay, at least this one could make sense from a practical standpoint, if your family already drinks a lot of soda. It would reduce soda can waste and, though I haven’t run the numbers, probably is less expensive than buying soda. Still, is it a goal of yours to make it possible for family members to make themselves a soda any time they have the notion?  A far better goal would be reducing or eliminating soda from your diet.

     

     

     

     

     

    I’m sure there are many more, but I found these barely looking. Once, I saw a show that featured The Ultimate Cheepskate, Jeff Yeager. He said something that really stood out for me. He said he and his wife decided long ago that they were not going to “upgrade” their life-style; that the life-style they had at that time was satisfactory. I cannot say I fully embrace that principle – I do love my smartphone as much as the next girl – but there’s an idea there I can really get behind. It’s certainly better not to continuously look for the next gadget to acquire, which 0ften requires other gadgets to keep itself moving along. You buy the soda gadget and then you need to replace the CO2 indicator and you need the corn syrup garbage to make it taste like a soda and you need electricity to power it…Isn’t it easier to just drink water?

    -Danielle

    * Should you disagree and do, in fact, find these to be highly useful, feel free to mention it in a comment. But I doubt you will change my mind. 😉