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Are You Embracing Winter?

Are You Embracing Winter?

Here in the Northeast, we start dreaming about tropical climates and Island getaways by the beginning of January. By the end of February, we are pretty sure we will buy a beach home, and by the end of March, well, we won’t go there.
For most of us, it is hard for us to embrace winter, both in the natural and in the emotional and spiritual. Spring and summer are easy to embrace because everything is new. New growth, fresh fruit, and new beauty. We need winter in the physical and in the emotional and spiritual because in winter the pests die. It is in the winter that we are forced to deal with the conditions on the inside. So, for all those who are in a “winter” season in their lives, be reminded that winter is only a season. Thank God it doesn’t last forever!
Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 (NIV) There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build.

I Am Woman! Hear me…Meow?

I remember a commercial from my childhood vividly in which the woman proudly declared she could bring home the bacon, take care of the home, and extend value to her relationships because she was a woman! It was an empowering message for women in the 1980’s who were breaking out of the constraints that had been placed on them by society, but it was a myth that grew in strength and has created a loss in many when they were not able to be everything to everybody. Every choice has positives elements that bring peace or life, and every choice has losses that are tied to that choice. For example, as a working woman, I may decide that I do not have the strength to make a homemade dinner and might opt for takeout. The choice is positive for me in that I have extended self-care to myself by the choice takeout has brought me, but the loss is in finances and maybe health quotient. So how do you make decisions when each decision brings loss? This is where I, as a woman, have to include my spirit. This is where I consult the higher power of the Holy Spirit because the Bible says the Spirit of God knows what we need when we do not. I will be honest: there are times I want with all my heart to make a choice for self-care and ignore the losses, but only caring for self can sometimes numb the loss. On a recent afternoon, I arrived home exhausted and laid down in my dark bedroom and watched “Christmas in Connecticut” thinking there was no way I could make dinner. However, as I gave myself care for that half hour things evolved and when I asked the Holy Spirit about making dinner, I felt encouraged to make dinner and did it with an ease that had not existed the previous hour. Where did that strength come from? God. It says in the Bible that Jesus is before the throne of God interceding for us and supplying our needs, but what we need changes daily and we have a God who knows us better than we know ourselves and He knows the power inside of us when we do not. Next time you are questioning what you should choose, ask God to show you. He knows what you do not and can direct you to deal with things you did not know you could deal with today.

John 16:13
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

1980’s commercial I referred to in my post

Five Ways to be Focused Throughout Your Day

I have started using timers for everything. I already used the timers for cooking and laundry, but as of late, I have been using timers as a means to stay on task. I become frustrated with myself or with situations when I find myself distracted from what I wish to focus my energy. In the short 10 minutes since I sat down to write, my dog has visited me, the dog began to bark at children playing, I looked up two definitions of words on the internet, a toilet overflowed, and two children asked me questions.

Distraction is one of the plagues of western culture. No longer are people trying to figure out time management because the ability to focus is more of a problem. The largest problem with lack of focus is that our relationships are suffering the strain of our lack of attention and many are feeling devalued. Here are five ways to be more focused in your day so you can do what you want to do with your time and the people in your life instead of directing your energy to all the other things that are vying for your time.

1. Do not go on electronics during the first hour of your day and the last hour of your day. Your brain needs to focus so that you can plan out your day and remember what you need to remember. When you choose to not use electronics at the end of your day you are better able to relax, pray and plan for tomorrow so that you enter a more restful sleep.

2. Take notes throughout your day of things you wish to come back to later, but not at that moment. By taking notes you will stay on your current task instead of getting sidetracked.

3. Take breaks. Every hour of task focus requires a ten minute break so that your brain can rest and refocus. You will be able to complete a task faster if you take a break. Most people assume if they just stay on task they can finish faster but science has proven that breaks make task completion easier and more efficient. When at work, change up your task for 10 minutes each hour so as to reset your concentration.

4. When having a conversation with an individual, focus on their face. If you are having trouble staying focused when they are talking you can use several tricks to keep you attentive. You will find conversation more stimulating and relaxing when you focus.
A. Focus on all the aspects of their head: their eyes, eyelashes, skin, creases in their faces, etc.
B. Repeat to yourself (inside of your head) what the person is stating every couple of minutes. What are they feeling? What are they saying? If you are thinking about what your reply will be, you are not focused on listening. Keep your attention on what the person is stating.

5. Set timers for yourself so that you stay focused on something you have traditionally allowed to steal your time. For example, if you find yourself staying on Facebook longer than you wish, set a timer before you go onto the site. Set a timer for 10-20 minutes and then get off the site when your timer goes off. You will come to see how much time you waste on things that you do not wish to focus upon.

Today I used a timer to keep myself on the task or writing. I knew I had one hour to write and by using a timer I stayed focused on the task. My challenge was to write as well as I could in one hour and edit what I needed to change during another time slot. When we focus our attention on things that we value as important instead of those that are not, we tend to find ourselves much more energized at the end of the day.