to do lists.

to do listI am a list maker.

Often the list runs on repeat over and over in my mind for so long that I MUST write it down to stop the brain neurons from overworking. That was the case this morning.  Early, early on a Saturday, when I should be sleeping in, the “to-do” items started running.

So I rolled out of bed and grabbed a pad of paper to jot ‘em down.

Simply putting them in writing seems to take away some of the “overthinking.” But the “checking them off” part is even better.

I love a good old notepad, but I have also moved to the paperless kind of note taking too. Three of my favs are Evernote, Reminders and Notes. (See image below-or click on the word to find more info about each one.) Online and/or in the cloud…these lists travel with me form home to work to Haiti and beyond.

Well, it is time to stop talking about my to-do list and actually start checking things off!  Happy Saturday Peeps! Hope you accomplish lots…or savor in taking the day off from task completion.

How about you? List maker? Note taker? What do you use?

Note Taking Apps

 

 

good rest…good books…

It is funny what a little rest and relaxation can do for the soul.  When one gets all worked up, stressed out, filled to the max with “to-dos,” any little irritation can throw ya over the edge.  Take this April snowstorm for example…people are irritated, frustrated, complaining, whining, commiserating with others…and yet, here I am lounging in bed with a cup of coffee and a great book!

coffee in bed

Maybe if I needed to be out shoveling, or fighting the snow flurries and crazy drivers in a commute today, I’d be feeling differently. My future son-in-law has this saying…”It is what it is”…when things are simply out of our control.  Can’t really change it.  Can’t complain it away. Can’t escape it.  It is what it is.  And so with this this turn of temps (it was 85 degrees and sunny in central Florida yesterday, as I was basking in the sunshine) I will keep my chin up and make the most of it.

Maybe, I have a little peace today, because I have rested.  I have read and I have reflected.  Author Glennon Doyle Melton describes this as her Inhale, Exhale – “Reading is my inhale and writing is my exhale.  If I am not reading and writing regularly, I begin to suffocate and tend to climb the nearest  person like a frantic cat, clawing at the person’s eyeballs and perching on his head, desperate to find a breath of air.”  I have read this week, and I have found the time to throw my random thoughts on this silly blog – that is fairly cheap therapy for me. Learning to be intentional about the things that keep me breathing normally is pretty darn important. Keeping my eyes open to the life that is happening around me is so essential…because no matter where I look, I can see that my life is quite sweet…so who am I to ever complain? Keep it real, yes…but whiny complaints? So unnecessary.

My challenge to you dear friends…what is your inhale and exhale?  What will help keep you sane when the storms of life roll in?

p.s. If you are looking for some reading that keep it real and makesyou giggle…or cry…check out these two awesome books!

Love Does

Carry On, Warrior

 

extending vacation mentality.

I find myself in a familiar circumstance. Every time I take a vacation, I always desire to savor that “stress free” attitude once returning to the land of responsibilities and routines. In chatting with a pal yesterday, while I was soaking up a little sunshine and sipping on a fruity drink, I was determined once again to reinstate a few vacation practices back into my work life reality:

*Exercise regularly…preferably outdoors (seriously…with an inspiring Pandora mix playing)

*Read for fun (something more than textbooks and educational articles)

*Create opportunities for long uninterrupted conversations

*Sneak in a weekend nap

*Try new foods/restaurants

*Wake early enough to enjoy a couple cups of coffee in the morn before beginning the hustle and bustle

*Learn to leave work at work

*Savor the simple blessings each day

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looking for the carrot.

It has been a long…long winter.  And what we northerners need most is a little sunshine…a little warm spring air.

The attitudes at work today were sweet…filled with hope, with anticipation.  Spring break was hanging in the balance…hour by hour, minute by minute, we worked through the day to reach a little reprieve.  A 9 day stretch of rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. You see, we all need a little carrot–a  sweet incentive, a tiny reward for surviving the five months of snow, cold and wintery wind. A reinforcement for being the positive encourager as an educator…empowering students to be their best.

And so…vacation begins. Thank you sweet Jesus for giving us this little break…this opportunity to escape the routines and demands of daily life.  I pray that it restores us…energizes us…gives us hope to return with positive attitudes.

sweet spring break

the need for people.

When life gets busy…complicated…overwhelming…we often pull away from the ones we love, simply because we cannot imagine bringing one more piece to the chaotic puzzle of life.  But come on People!  That is when we need them the most!

My schedule and to-do list were kicking my butt the past few weeks…so much to do and so little time to do it…and so I retreated.  I hunkered in to my selfish little “me world” and hung on for  dear life…heading to meetings and trainings and class…typing papers, reading text books, analyzing data. Meals consisted of granola bars, string cheese, take out pizza and drive through burgers…gross. I canceled a lunch date with a friend…I did not return calls. My poor husband even came down with strep throat and I left him home alone for hours on end. An administrator called me to the office and questioned a situation, and I broke down…one of those ugly cries with snorts and short breaths-clearly an overreaction to the situation, but an unfortunate result of emotional overload. (Not one of my finer moments.)

Kinda wish I had a do-over.

Overtired. Lack of decent nutrition. Zero physical activity. Minimal human contact. Not a very great combination.

The end is in sight…by default, the walls came down and I began to reach out again…a conversation with a pal in the parking lot after class…a long phone call with my insightful adult daughter…a morning breakfast reconnecting with colleagues…and a late night chat with my dear old college roommate Melinda.

I am feeling a bit like my old self this morning. Silly me!  Why didn’t I reach out sooner?  Why did I think I could do life on my own? Why didn’t I make time to connect?

Belonging to a group or community gives us a sense of identity. It helps us understand who we are and feel part of something larger than ourselves. Researchers also find that people with strong social connections have less stress-related health problems, lower risk of mental illness, and faster recovery from trauma or illness. Friends and family can also encourage and support us in healthy lifestyle habits, such as exercise and moderation.

http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/topic/connecting/connection-happiness

I am so grateful for the individuals that stick by me…even when I do not deserve it. So today, I will reconnect with my poor sick hubby…take care of him and enjoy a quiet day at home. And I will reach out to the ones I love this week…less of me….less tasks…less stress.

Sara and Melinda•Jamestown College•1990

SaraMelinda1990

impossible contentment?

live-loveMy daughter is engaged…seeking an internship…and at the cusp of making big and major plans for her future. Kinda crazy.  We had this sweet, sentimental conversation a few weekends back about the emotional tug of wanting more, wanting new and exciting…and yet longing for safe and familiar. Do you take the risk and follow your heart? Do you keep things the same, because you know your limits? How can you have it all?  Is that even possible?

And the reality that I shared with her is that those questions always linger…even at my age…probably even at my mama’s age…and I bet my grandma had similar thoughts.  We are human.  We will always have longings.  We will always wonder about our decisions. I believe that TRUE and COMPLETE contentment may not even be possible on this side of heaven.

Those living with tragedy, grief, trauma and sadness TRULY know this to be true.

But even those of us with lives that appear “put together” have incredible holes in our hearts.  There may always be wonderings about our choices, our plans, our circumstances.

…as teenagers, we could not wait to turn 16…18…21….to be done with high school…to complete college. There were plans to find a fulfilling career or marry or travel or start a family.  Always, looking for the next best thing.  And then the mamas of the littles cannot WAIT for those babes to be independent…and then the longing for them to be sweet, cuddly and little again once the awkward, emotional teen years arrived!  What about those parents sending their young adults off to college-mixed emotions of excitement for their independence and yet such sadness about the empty seat at dinner?  Pretty sure my sis is feeling the angst of sending her oldest off to the land of the unknown in the fall…kinda wants to make her curl up in the fetal position and sob at times! And I am guessing that my mom and dad are thrilled to have their two daughters off and on their own, happily married, employed and independent…yet I do believe they have a bit of emptiness with our busy lives and hold a secret wish for us to share dinner times at their table.

…and then there is the random, whiny discontent that seeps into daily life.  In the winter, we are too cold.  In the summer, too hot.  Living up north with family is the choice my husband and I made, but the desire to return to southern California is always in the back of mind.  Yet when I lived there in the glorious sunshine, I ached to be with family…oh such discontent.

…I hear colleagues (and often myself) wondering if a new job would bring more happiness, less stress, greater fulfillment. Stay-at-home moms wish they had more adult interaction, working moms crave less structured days to be home with their kiddos.

Oh the longing.  The wishing.  The questioning.

And so, we make the wisest decisions we can…and do our best to embrace the moment. Need a change? Then make one. Facing a transition or change beyond your control? Face it with real feelings-share those feelings-and then search for the positives.  It may not be possible to feel TRUE contentment here on earth…but we can always search for the little silver lining…and live with the hope of heaven.

live the life you love, love the life you live

kozefò team trip planning.

I am a bit of a crier. Sentimental. Empathetic. Emotional. Sappy. Yep that’s me.

So today, as a group of some of my favorite people crowded into my living room with a slice of pizza and a special k bar to discuss the plans for a week in Haiti this summer, I was a bit of a wreck.  These family and friends have all committed to a week of learning and loving with me…on a sweet little island nation. Humbled. Thrilled.

Team Kozefò

Before launching into the logistics of the trip (packing list, instructions, details) I shared a few of my fav thoughts from The Hole in the Gospel

Discerning our unique calling is not always a simple thing.  We need to be quiet enough to hear God’s still, small voice.  We must also faithfully read the Scriptures, pray diligently, follow the Lord’s teachings, listen to wise friends who know us, and consistently make ourselves available to serve. Finally, we have to remain open to God’s possibilities, always willing to take the outrageous risk and do the unpredictable thing.

…and a few more bits of wisdom from When Helping Hurts

Our perspective should be less about how we are going to fix the materially poor and more about how we can walk together, asking God to fix us both…Getting the job done is less important than being together and getting to know one anotherStay away from the “go-help-and-save-them” message and use a “go-as-a-learner” message.

And so we will go. And we will learn.  We will spend time with the people that I already know and love…and soon my American friends will know and love my Haitian friends.  We will share a joy for learning with our sweet schoolkids and their families.  We will partner with Saul to do a few projects around the facilities.  We will converse, in the best way possible between Creole and English, with plenty of smiles and hugs and laughter.  We will visit sweet spaces where the work is already going strong (shout out to Heartline Ministries and The Apparent Project!)  There will be encouragement for our teachers and our staff.

There is planning and details to work out yet…but there is hope and faith and love…and that is really all that matters.

Let us all “remain open to God’s possibilities, always willing to take the outrageous risk and do the unpredictable thing.”