Wednesday, November 30, 2011

She Will Run - Wk 5 Managing Time

Time. Never enough of it in a day. But we are all given the same amount. Some people seem to have more hours than others, otherwise how do they get all they do done? It all comes down to how you choose to use the time you have. Have you heard of the rocks and sand illustration. I have talked about it before. You can read it here. I have always been challenged by the fact that we have exactly enough hours in the day to do what we need to do. What it comes down to is deciding what is really important and what can wait. It is knowing what the big rocks are and how to deal with the sand so it doesn't become a mountain while you are taking care of the rocks.

I love this quote 'I believe it's never too early - or too late - to start asking the questions: "What is it that really absorbs be?" and "What am I uniquely suited to being able to contribute to both my life and the lives of others?" - and then to have the courage, patience, and persistence to act on the answers as if your life depends on it. Because, in a very real sense, it does.' - author Andy Griffiths in I Believe This (Random House). We all know life is brief. Often it takes tragedy to catch a glimpse of what is really important. When we look at time management it is not about trying to fit more into each day. 'Our aim is to manage our lives more effectively in order to achieve our goals with excellence, love life, remain sane, and pursue the things that we enjoy doing' (She will run studies p.54)

Through planning and organising, we are able to effectively manage our time. The number of ways to do this can't be done justice in a single post. One of the reasons I put together this blog was to have a way to put all these ideas and resources together. In a nutshell it is about finding systems that work for you and your family. It needs to involve keeping track of things to do, setting goals, celebrating your successes and organising your things.

One of the most effective solution to managing time I have found is in how I organise my things. Following the rule of everything has a place and everything in its place, over the years I have sorted my house. It all started with my scrapbooking. A desire to do more led to sorting my supplies in a way that meant I got more done. I have done the same with my clothesOn a more simpler note I have developed a quiet time box {for those evenings when my toddlers had an afternoon sleep and didn't want to go to bed at night} a snack box {for quick snacks and lunch making, a recipe box {to keep all my favs together} and a cleaning box {to have all those supplies on hand} and a present box. All little things that came out of a need to do things more efficiently so the time that I saved could be put to better use. Granted it takes time to set these things up but the time and stress that it saves is so worth it. One of my biggest time savers has to be how I organise my meals and groceries. You can read about it here. Something I came to realise this past week when I didn't do my meal planner and grocery list and have been paying for it ever since.

I like to live by the saying 'if you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you've always got' (Ian Grant). If there is something that is robbing you of spending time on what you want, look at the pile of sand that has become a mountain. Choose the one thing that bugs you the most and there will be a solution to it. Sometimes it takes a little more than what you can come up with. I would love to help out. Send me an email at

Above all stop and enjoy what you are doing right now. If you haven't watched the trailer at one thousand gifts it is well worth the visit. I think we beat ourselves up too much over what we haven't done. Slow down, simplify and take in all that you have done.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

She Will Run - Wk 4 Conflict

It is hard to avoid. Very much a reason why I have been late in getting to writing this post. Conflict arises whenever you have a relationship with another person. Your expectations and ideas will differ at some point. I'm one of those people that would rather weave their way out of it and keep the peace. This often comes at my expense. The ability to address conflict effectively is a skill that is learnt. Seems it takes me a while to learn as I have had several goes through similar situations.

Picture your favourite coffee mug. This is you. With everyday use it inevitably succumbs to chips and cracks that appear at the weakest points. This is the conflict that you encounter. As we fill our cup, the cracks can be strengthened before they leak or break the cup. So it is with conflict. If we are able to identify it and handle it constructively we are strengthened and able to build better relationships.

It is important that you distinguish between the problem that you are having and the person that you have the problem with. Thinking through responses and who you are responding to, beats being spontaneous and emotionally charged. Look at the situation and what is required of you. Describe what you did and what happened and then look at a solution for the future.

Steven Covey in his book '7 Habits of Highly Effective People' outlines an effective strategy for creating a win/win situation. No one likes to lose. Is the battle worth losing the relationship? Sometimes we need to put the problem on the table and come around the same side and work on a solution that both parties are happy with. Often in the discussion we come up with something together that we couldn't have on our own.

I find one of the hardest parts of conflict resolution is in dealing with the person in future situations. It is natural to feel awkward and unsure how to deal with them or what to say. Time is a healer. It sometimes takes the decision to forgive that allows us freedom from those feelings. I found this quote at Kristi Stephens blog.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

She Will Run - Wk 3 Criticism

It is certainly not a coincidence that since looking at the topic of criticism, I have heard, seen, read and experienced things related to it. A bit like when you are pregnant or wanting to be and you see every pregnant women wherever you go. This study has opened my eyes to new perspectives and made me more aware of what I say and do.

The essential question that I came away with is how do you see yourself? Everyone has an opinion about us and what we do, and many like to offer it. Whether couched in positive language, sarcastic or harsh, criticism is hard to hear.

Picture if you will a backpack, strapped on your back ready for the trip {your journey in life}. At your feet is a pile of rocks of various sizes. The rocks represent those words of criticism that we hear. From the small well intentioned comment stone to the constant, critical, uninvited rocks, we have a choice to make. Do we take them on board, adjust our straps and go through life weighed down with the extra baggage? I would far rather pack the things that matter in life. So how do we deal with the rocks?

It starts with you. Have you defined who you are? I came across this post at the beauty of different blog. How amazing are you? You were made to be loved, valued and appreciated. We are on a journey to be better people. No one is perfect. In the words of Charles Swindoll {a world renowned Christian leader}, "Don't tell yourself that you really are the kind of person others say you are. If what is being said against you is not true, don't believe it." I have found it valuable to get down in writing who I am and want to be. I have put together a folder 'Defining Me'. More on this in a later post.

Take time to reflect on your criticism. Sometimes it is as easy as refusing to take on board the comments made. More often we need to process it further. Ask yourself is the criticism true? Did I behave in the right way? What would those who love me the most think of it? Is my conscience clear and are there any changes I need to make? {SWR p28-29} It is so valuable to weigh up the comments made with truth. Surround yourself with people whose opinion you trust and who encourage you.

Sometimes it is necessary in addressing the criticism to approach the person it came from especially if you are churning over it. This depends on who your critic is. Sometimes it can make the situation worse. It helps to allow the other person to clarify themselves. Ask them to help you understand what they meant by what they said. If you want to express your feelings use I statements. Avoid confronting them as it can make you critical.

Finally if despite all you have done the criticism still hurts, making a decision to forgive the other person allows you to be free from the hurt. Know you are not alone. 'being criticised places you with the company of the greats; Jesus - who has maintained his place in history as a good man and a Saviour for two thousand years - was, and is criticised, alongside every other person who has attempted to accomplish anything of any significance over the centuries.' {SWR p32} As I heard on Joyce Meyer - Enjoying Everyday Life on Radio Rhema this morning, if everyone who tried something was criticised and even failed, gave up, there wouldn't be any major accomplishments. It is often by our imperfections that we learn and grow. It is in picking ourselves up and moving on that we are made stronger.

I leave you with this quote that I was given during a scrapbooking workshop called Embracing Imperfection at Big Picture Scrapbooking. 'Revel in your imperfections, be entertained by your problems. And know that once you looked ahead, and wished you were where you are now, and once again you will look back and smile.'

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What's new around our place?

So Matthew went down to feed the chickens and came back to share the news of our new arrivals. The boys were down like a shot to check it out. We free range so there was a bit of a game of catch to get them housed. We spent this evening moving them up closer to the house and make a ramp so they can get up to roost. The things you do! And we also discovered that the ducks have decided to nest so we may have ducklings to add to the new arrivals. Never a dull moment around here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

She Will Run - Wk 2 Guilt

I love how in doing the studies that I am able to learn as well. I will be first to admit that I don't have all the answers and love to learn and be inspired by others.

This week we looked at the area of managing motherly guilt. Guilt is defined as a feeling of having done the wrong thing or the feeling of having fallen short towards a particular obligation. Wouldn't it be great to shake off the feelings of guilt and get on with the joy of being a mother without the pressure. You are not alone. Should I sleep in just that bit longer, what should I put in the kids lunches, should I bike to school or take the car, do I take the dog for a walk or my boy to the swimming pool, should I make something for afternoon tea or grab another packet of bikkies, hang the washing out or throw it in the drier, should I do the cleaning or get up to date on my blog? And that was just this morning!I shared my thoughts here about the big 'G'. The video that I mention is well worth a visit. You can find it here.

In this consumer driven society we are bombarded with choices that are supposed to give us freedom. They are geared toward making you feel guilty, whether its the food you eat, what you watch, how you look, to how you bring up your children, and take care of the environment and be sure to take care of yourself. Sometimes there are just too many choices and it gets so overwhelming that we do nothing. I have often sat on the couch at the end of the day and the things I was going to do {the important things that never make it to the top of the to do list} just seem too hard. I remind myself that it just takes one thing to get started and start thinking about how good it would feel to get that one thing done.

I recently finished this book ' Find Your Strongest Life- Marcus Buckingham' and the one thing that stands out for me is the misunderstanding women have today that we can do anything means that we can do everything. There is a significant difference. We often look at other women and see an ideal that they have it all together. What you don't see is what is often hiding below the surface. He gives the conventional image of a successful woman being a juggler moving fast enough to keep all the balls in the air at the same time. The skill in juggling is keeping the balls in the air. To do so requires you to throw the next ball as quickly as it comes so you can be ready for the next one. As a result it barely touches your fingers. Living a strong life is quite the opposite of throwing. The secret is in knowing how to draw a few things toward you and catch hold of it, enjoy it and experience it fully. Well worth a read.

When we focus on what we can't do we feel guilty about what we aren't doing. We are all created differently and the areas and skills that you excel in will not be the same as someone else. You will be best at things you are naturally talented at and it makes sense to direct your focus towards those things. Avoid comparing yourself with others. Life is not about having what you want, it's wanting what you have {Heidi Swapp}. So focus on the positive and celebrate who you are. Start a list. Don't expect perfection. I shared an excerpt from Word for Today by Bob Gass about an advertisement that Fila took out in a newspaper to honour an NBA All-Star spokesman and acknowledge the pressure there is in society to be perfect. From his sporting achievements to saving the environment, even donating a kidney, 'he vowed to do better next year'. 'There will always be areas of your life that need improvement, you will never 'arrive'. But that doesn't mean you can't stop and savour the moment, or celebrate the distance already covered and say to yourself, 'I'm not all that I should be, but I'm better than I used to be. I'm all right, and I'm on my way.' {WFT Oct 15, 2011}.

Finally to help manage your feelings of guilt focus on the big picture. Avoid judging your performance on one day or even a week. Celebrate what you are doing well, take note of things that you want to do, and do what you can. Life is not to have the best but to do the best with what you have. I am reminded of this every time I drive my children to school. It is possible to bike, but it requires a lot of organising to get there. Instead of feeling guilty I am reminded that as a one car family my husband bikes to work, we park down the hill from school and walk up together and we do it when it works. I am doing what I can with what I have now.

I leave you with a book that is on my reading list - One Thousand Gifts. If you have a chance watch the trailer which you will find when you scroll down on the right hand side of the side. Enjoy the little things in life for someday you will realise they were the big things. Inspired by this post

Reset button

Right now I am back from teaching the next session in our 'She will run' series at Mainly Music. Last week I couldn't get to writing my blog till later in the week. This week my son fell asleep on the way home so I took the chance to start writing while it was fresh in my mind. Until I took a look at what was still to do around me. A load of washing to put away, toys scattered about, washing to sort and a pile of dishes on the bench. Sound familiar? Some people can block out the things that need to be done and focus on what they are doing. I have got better at it but it definitely bugs me and I can't focus unless there is sense in the chaos. I had to make a choice. Spend a whole lot of time getting onto the tasks {and then get nothing done that I wanted to do}, leave it {and get frustrated and overwhelmed when you have 10 more things to add to list of to do's} OR

Time to push the reset button

Knowing it isn't possible to get everything done, I ask myself 'what things can I do now to move one step closer to getting the job done?' I give myself a time limit. In this case 5-10 mins. And I went for it. The dishes went in the dishwasher and the rest for washing are in a pile to be washed. The bench is wiped. The washing came off the line and now I am ready to hang the next load. The toys are off the floor and back in the box.

I have a mental list of things that I do to reset. Some of them are daily things. Some take more time. I wrote more about my thoughts in this post.

Top of my list is making my bed. A small thing that takes just moments {because I don't stress about getting hospital corners} But as it is the focus of the room I know that I feel good to have it done as I walk in. I can deal with other things that haven't been done.

What tops your list. Is there one thing that you can do that makes you feel like you can deal with things? Lets face it the day to day things we do as mums often leave us feeling like we haven't achieved anything. As soon as something is done it is just as quickly undone and more things are added. We don't get credit, often aren't thanked or rewarded. So find something that you can be satistied with and pat yourself on the back when you've done it.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Carrot, egg or coffee?

I love illustrations that get you thinking about life. I stumbled on this one while blog hopping.

Are you a Carrot, an Egg or Coffee Bean?
By Author Unknown

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life, and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it, and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first pot, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what do you see?” “Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied. She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft. She then asked her to take the egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to smell and sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she smelled and tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What’s the point, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity- boiling water-but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water. “Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When trials and adversity knock on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Think of this: Which am I?
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a passive heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside, am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or, am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you become better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?

She Will Run - Wk 1 Stress

It just goes to show. I finally get into gear with putting together teaching sessions and wanting to do more with my using my blog as I intended and my week is busier than ever. Talk about stress. A great tester for how I am managing mine! I started out well but it all got a bit much as more and more was added to the pile without finishing what I needed to. It was a case of deal with it as best I could and make the most of the opportunity I finally have now to get back on top of things. A huge shout out to my hubby who has taken the boys for some action time and given me some space.

So to the study: Managing your stress. The dictionary defines it as 1. Pressure: tension. 2. Physical or mental strain. 3. emphasis on something. As I read this I happened to glance at the next word which was stretch. It got me to thinking. Stress is just like this. We are like a rubber band, stretched often times in different directions and to full or what feels like beyond our capacity. And what happens then. Either the rubber band snaps or pings off, hurting us and others. Most times I know that the ones who get hurt seem to be my children or husband as they are most likely to be in the cross fire even though they may not be the cause of my stress.

Stress comes in different packages but affects all of us. Sometimes I think that it often isn't the big things in life such as financial, health or relationship issues that cause the most trouble as we can identify these. It is the little everyday things like being on time to something, forgetting something that you needed as you go out the door and cleaning up another mess your toddler has made, that build up unnoticed. The result is a blow up at just one more little thing {the straw that broke the camels back}. You wonder how something so minor can cause that reaction from you.

Some degree of stress is healthy and necessary as it gets us going to achieve our goals. It is the quantity of stress and how we deal with it that weighs us down. Have you seen the illustration of the person standing at the top of the cliff looking down and the ambulance waiting below? As we look at this issue we address how instead of waiting for stress to take its toll (the ambulance}, we can identify the stress and address how we can manage it better {putting a fence at the top of the cliff}.

A big part of identifying your stress is getting to know yourself. Making a list of what areas are stressing you right now. Are there similarities between them. What is it that triggers your reaction? How do you deal with it? I know for me it isn't usually the situation itself that stresses me but whether I am organised for it. I find it hard to deal with things when there is chaos about me and I can't focus on the task at hand. My solution has been to put in place diffferent things {a whole post in itself} so I can focus.

An important key to dealing with stress is looking after yourself. We need to give ourselves permission to do something for us. We are constantly told that getting exercise and having at least 8 hours of sleep are essential. But, I don't know many mums that can put their hand up for that being a constant in their life. If you find it hard to not feel guilty about taking a bit of time, instead see it as a reward or a celebration of something you have achieved. Make a list of little things like sitting down for a cuppa and read a mag, having a foot spa, or reading a blog. Choose one thing that you can realistically do. Like the emergency instructions on a plane: if the oxygen mask comes down put it on yourself first and then assist your child. 'If Mum ain't happy ain't nobody happy!' And remember to breathe. Not take a deep breath {it has been read somewhere that this isn't good - when you think about it, it almost gives fuel to the fire to let rip}. Just the simple action of focus on breathing in and out and giving yourself time to think before you react. This one was actually my word for last year. You can read more about this here.

The stress associated with relationships is a biggie. When we are in conflict with someone else the stress that it can cause can often build, especially as we focus on how we will deal with that person when we see them. As a result we end up feeling anger, resentment and bitterness. These things are addressed more during later sessions. I realise more and more the importance of identifying and dealing with issues that cause broken relationships and how important it is to ensure that you have relationships that energise you. In line with this is recognising when other people are putting their stress on to you. Are you able to say no? Next week we look at this one in more detail.

If there is one thing that I have learnt and taken hold of it is the idea that we are in control of our actions. That given a situation we are able to stop and think before we react. Our brain is often on autopilot though and responds to what we put into it, and what we have experienced. Replacing our negative thoughts with positive ones, develops a can do attitude.

I leave you with an illustration that you can read on this post. Through learning, sharing, prayer, and taking it one step at a time you can become better.

I look forward to sharing next week as we look at the area of Motherly Guilt.

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