Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Crisis Reading: A Life Raft Of Books

I've always been a big reader of self help books. Filling your mind with information you can use when things start to fall apart is a plan I highly recommend. 

“Most people who decide to grow personally find their first mentors in the pages of books.”
John C. Maxwell, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential

Dark days are coming. In one way or another. Maybe you've already been through some hard times or are going through them now. In any case they are inescapable because life is unpredictable. You may be sick, have lost someone you love, or have been shaken to your core by disappointment in someone you trusted. Our ability to cope with hard things is not unlike building physical muscle. The more things you endure and deal with the more things you can deal with. And next time you'll already have some skills in place and tools on hand to help you. You'll know that you aren't going to feel this level of hurt forever.

You have choices and power over yourself no matter what has befallen you. Are you really just going to pull the shades on your life and wallow in your pain for the next 30 years or so claiming you can't get over, forgive, or move on? Or are you going to deal with your situation, doing whatever needs to be done and then get about the business of working on yourself? The latter allows you do take pain and use it constructively to grow into a fuller version of yourself. 

I've put together a little reading list for life's darkest moments, curve balls that hit you in the shins, broken hearts, and all manner of fiery arrows that may be hurled your way. They don't all seem like books you'd want at such a time, but it's been my experience that I am a much better student in the midst of pain.

 1.Healing is a Choice  by Stephen Arterburn. Acutally, anything by this author is helpful when you are in crisis mode. He's been there. And he's extremely honest about it. If things are bad I'd say, start here.

 2. Rick Warren's classic Purpose Driven Life has been...well, repurposed and updated into What On Earth Am I Here For? It's the question we all really want the answer to. Take 40 days and do this one a chapter at a time, it's filled with extra resources via your smart phone to further your discovery process. A great book for starting over...at the beginning.

 3. Stephen Arterburn has another winner called Reframe Your Life. Simple idea that helps you develop a new perspective.

 4. Joyce Myers has a collection of books that would help anyone get through pretty much anything but I found Change Your Words Change Your Life to be particularly helpful. Those words have the power of life and death in them and NOT just when we are saying them to others. Watch that self talk!

5.  Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway. Classic. Simple. Brilliant.

6. Boundaries by John Townsend: Put your people pleasing ways to an end once and for all.

 7. The Marriage Benefit: The Surprising Rewards of Staying Together. If you happen to need a list of reasons to do that. Full of stories from his counseling sessions that are honest and hopeful.

 8. Just like all his other books John Gray's book Why Mars and Venus Collide is like drinking a cool glass of water on a hot day. You recognize the truths he is outlining immediately.

 9. The Five Love Languages. A modern classic that will help you understand how your spouse, children, and friends are communicating love to you and what they need in return. Fascinating discussions will follow! He has versions for kids, teenagers, and singles but the basic information applies to all.

10. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Even on the worst day there are things to be grateful for. Many of them, in fact. Practicing gratitude is going to ease your pain in ways you can't even imagine.

 Biographies. Biographies. Biographies. People have endured some pretty wretched things and lived to tell about them and thrive. They have then written them down for us so that we can learn from their experiences. Sure your life may suck right now but have you had to cut off your own arm? Were you born without arms and legs? Have you been held prisoner and tortured by anyone? Sometimes a little perspective doesn't hurt. Here are a few I recommend:

Saturday, August 10, 2013

One from the Archives. But It's about shoes, so it's awesome.

The two sides of my brain often give me problems...

All I wanted was a pair of shoes.

In about 6 weeks I'll be embarking on the trip of a lifetime (I call them all that until I start planning the next one). It will mean hours of walking on cobblestones in old world cities in unpredictable weather. Practical walking shoes will be in order.

I used the words "practical" and "shoes" in the same sentence. Feel free to make a sad face. :(

If you have shopped for a "walking shoe" you know one thing: they are ugly. And they are expensive. Okay, maybe you know two things.

Researching all of the available options online I read several reviews from customers about each brand. I know I should be inspired by phrases like "good arch support." My intellectual brain knows that this is what is going to be of primary importance after about 6 hours of walking...but....no walking shoe review ever said "These shoes make your legs look like a million bucks."

You can make your sad face again. :(

After doing all my online research I headed out to the brick and mortar stores.

Remember that 1960s show Lost In Space? Remember the robot that would frantically wave his arms and yell "Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!"?

Yeah. It was kind of like that. Only it was in my head. And it was "Danger! Leopard print! Hot pink! Sexy heels!

Here are some samples of the shoes I NEEDED to be shopping for...

Here is what I kept trying on...

To make matters worse I haven't bought myself anything new to wear since Thanksgiving so the word SPLURGE kept popping into my head.

SPLURGE is a very dangerous word. Please note the name of this blog. I should also point out that SPLURGE is relative. For me it would mean spending as much as $85.00 on a pair of shoes. I know for some of you that isn't a big deal, but I recently wore a $5.00 dress from the Goodwill to a wedding. Coral cotton eyelet was perfect for an outdoor event in record breaking heat. Here's a pic of me with my daughter, who would not be caught dead in a five dollar dress:

On top of all of that the nerdy part of my brain kept saying "There is a bookstore right over there!" I couldn't help thinking how many books I could buy with the money I had budgeted for these shoes.

Stupid nerdy brain. Leave me alone when I'm shoe shopping! 

So hard to stay focused on a mission when temptations abound...

At Stein Mart early in the day I happened upon a pair of Privos by Clark. Good reviews online, extremely comfortable, and not hideous. Not hideous being the key selling point. I think they may even look okay with a short skirt for day trips.

After visiting a dozen other stores to see if I could beat the price or find something I liked better, I went back and picked them up. Black is so practical. They didn't come in pink.

Feel free to make that sad face again. :(

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Pre-Packing Portfolio

Working on putting together some outfits for an upcoming trip. Can you guess where we're headed? Here are some clues for the 5 countries:

I won't be leaving the jeans at home this time. 

A book about one locale has been thoroughly discussed over on the Professor and the Housewife blog.

I expect one stop to be completely "fab."

At one destination my husband hopes to get into the "swing" of things.

One country is at the top of my husband's travel wish list.

Green Wellies and a Macintosh should be useful.

We won't be swimming one famous body of water.

We'll be visiting a bit of American sod in Europe.

When I was a kid one of these countries wasn't a likely tourist destination because of terrorism.

On to the clothes: