The Impact of Words

Something has been in the back of my mind for a while.  It’s about the words that people say.  Words are funny things – they have different meanings depending on tone, different meanings depending on who says them, different meanings based on where the recipient is in their head.  What sounds perfectly reasonable to one person is completely irrational to someone else.  Is that right?  Not necessarily.  A speaker can’t be responsible for controlling where the recipient is in their head, but a speaker can be cognizant of the words they use and how they could be received.  On the flip side, a recipient may need to consider the underlying message or thought behind the words.  It’s up to both parties to be aware.

(from Pinterest)

(from Pinterest)

Words spoken in anger or disappointment can hurt – even if that’s not the intention.  Words spoken with the wrong tone can hurt.  Even words said sweetly can hurt if the words themselves aren’t right.  Words spoken with contradictory actions leave the recipient wondering what is true.  Actions speak louder than words, but actions are diminished if the words don’t match.

One of the things I am working on this year is patience.  For those who know me, patience is not one of my strengths.  I tend to want things done immediately and to the highest standard possible.  This is difficult for me to convey without being frustrated when things don’t happen the way I want them to.  Working on this is going to be a struggle – I know this.  Add in a busy schedule, two little kids with busy schedules, as well as the number of distractions that are in today’s society and you can see that being patient is larger than just taking the time to breathe or count to 10 or relax.

I am trying to be patient with my words and actions.  I am trying to consider the impact that my word choice and tone has on others.  I’m trying to pause in important conversations to seek the truly right word or phrase.  Too often, I speak before I think – or rather, I’ve thought, but my brain has moved on to the next thing and my mouth is trying to catch up.

I’m also trying to make sure my words and actions match.  I don’t want to send contradictory messages.  If I say I am going to do something, I’m going to do it.  I don’t want to over-commit, but I want to make sure I follow through on those things I have agreed to.

It’s daunting to think that the words you speak (or write) can influence more than just yourself.  Those words travel throughout time and space to impact those around you or those you don’t even know.  Take the time to consider your words.  I know I will.

Advent Thoughts – Be Vigilant

 

I apologize, I haven’t been writing much at this blog lately.  Things have been pretty busy and my focus has been elsewhere.  I’m hoping to get back to a more consistent blogging schedule soon.

 

In today’s Gospel, Luke says in 21:34-36

 

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.  For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth.  Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”

 

I heard this at Mass this morning and it just struck me.  How often am I too distracted by what is going on at home or work or society in general to pay attention to the spiritual?  I get distracted by Facebook, Twitter, running, house chores, diet, reading, all sorts of things and I don’t take the time to quietly meditate on my relationship with God.

 

I think it becomes even more apparent at Christmas.  Father Jason said this morning (paraphrasing) that in the “world” it’s already Christmas, and that by the time December 25th gets here, everyone’s tired of it.  But for Christians who have been paying attention to the meaning behind the season, December 25th is the celebration – we are in a period of waiting.  Waiting for the birth of Christ the King.  We need to be vigilant for ways to watch for Christ’s blessing during this busy time.

 

This year, my husband and I are trying to get all of our gift-buying done early.  Typically, we don’t start decorating for Christmas until after my birthday and I’d like to have all of our purchases done by then as well this year.  I really want to focus my girls on the true meaning of Christmas and taking the time to sit with them and talk about Advent.  They see the Advent wreath at Mass, but they don’t know the meanings.  I will confess – I don’t truly know them as well.  I want to make this season special for them and start creating traditions – now that they are old enough to understand.

 

I need to be vigilant.  I need to watch for those gifts that are presented to me as I go throughout my day.  I need to make sure I spend time communing with God, even beyond this season.  I need to make sure my heart does not become overwhelmed by daily life.

 

How will you be vigilant this Advent?

 

A Refocus on My Journey

 

In January, I started a new way of life.  Nothing dramatic, but it was time for a change.  I decided that I was tired of the way I looked and felt.  I decided to become more active and to eat better.  I signed up for MyFitnessPal; I started a “Biggest Loser” type of competition at my local Y; and went on about my day.

 As I sit here at the beginning of month 8, I decided to look back at what I have done. 

  • Achievement 1 – Weight Loss – to date, I have lost about 30 pounds.  I’m not done yet, and it’s not coming off as fast as I would like, but that’s ok.  Am I eating better?  Mostly.  Can I do better?  Sure, but who wants to give up chocolate?
  • Achievement 2 – Running – to date, I have raced in 2 virtual 5k races and 3 other 5k races.  I am not the fastest runner, but I am working on it.  I will say this though, as much as I like the 5k races with other people, I really like the virtual races.  I don’t feel as much pressure that I am going to be the last one to cross the finish line.  I have at least 3 5k races, a 4-mile virtual race, a 10k, and a half-marathon planned for the next 3 months.
  • Achievement 3 – Weight Lifting – if you had asked me in January to lift weights, I would have headed straight to the machines and gone to work, but not challenged myself.  In April, I decided that I needed more of a challenge.  I poked around on some forums and other websites and found New Rules of Lifting for Women.  I started the program in May and am in the 2nd phase.  I have (mostly) enjoyed what I have learned while doing it.  In addition, I feel stronger and a bit braver…especially those days in which I am the only female in the free weight area.
  • Achievement 4 – Clothing – I have dropped 3-4 sizes since January, depending on the brand, style, and type of clothing.  This has to be one of my biggest complaints – garment manufacturers cannot seem to standardize their sizes.  On top of that, the classic size 8 is not the current size 8 (in my opinion anyway).

 What do I see for myself for the rest of this year?  Here are my goals:

  • Goal 1 – Weight Loss – lose another 10 pounds by the half-marathon, lose remaining weight by the end of the year (but NO LATER THAN March 1).
  • Goal 2 – Activity – stick with workouts.  I have found that it helps me to plan them out for each month.  Then I know what to expect and I can plan the rest of my day with certain expectations.  I also need to find something to train for.
  • Goal 3 – Weight Lifting – finish New Rules of Lifting for Women by the end of the year.  I should be able to accomplish that, unless my half-marathon training interferes too much.  After that program, I need to decide what I am going to do.  I may go back and start over, or I may decide to try something different.  Who knows?

This journey hasn’t been all sunshine and unicorns.  It’s been tough.  I’ve hit a few plateaus.  I’ve struggled with food choices.  There were days that I didn’t want to log everything I ate, but I did anyway.  I made myself accountable to the online friends I had; I made myself accountable to my husband and daughters; and most of all, I made myself accountable to me.  There are a few friends that have stuck with me since the beginning – with weekly weigh-ins that we text to each other, friends that listen to me whine and complain (and then help spur me on), friends that cheer me on when I run.  To them, I say

 thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I would have given up way before this without you.

The end of the Grandview Freedom Run Race (7/4/2012).

Without a doubt, this has been a hard journey (kind of like the race pictured above).  It’s not going to get easier.  I’m lucky that I have a supportive husband and two little girls who think it’s a lot of fun to “exercise” with Mommy on those days I decide a DVD is going to be the extent of my workout.  I’m lucky to have supportive friends.  I’m thankful for those people in cyber-land who run contests, who blog about their efforts, who are always willing to give information to newbies, and serve as inspiration.

As I refocus myself on the rest of the year and the activities I have coming up, I would like to say thank you.  Let’s keep supporting each other.

“How to Babysit a Grandpa”

Jean Reagan’s book How to Babysit a Grandpa is full of useful tips for kids, like what to have for snack when Grandpa comes over, what to do during naptime and Grandpa needs a nap, what to look out for on walks, how to set up a good fort to play in, where to hide when Grandpa comes, etc. Any Grandpa would be happy to have this much fun with his grandkids.

I’m pretty sure this book was written for my daughters, my niece, and my nephews.  My dad completely fits the “fun grandpa” description.  My daughter laughed her way through this book, except for the part about eating ketchup, because “Papa doesn’t like ketchup, Mom.”

The illustrations by Lee Wildish are fun, colorful, and full of detail.  They truly made the story.

This will most likely be a gift for Grandpa sometime this year.

I received this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

“Weeknights with Giada”

I will admit, I am a Food Network fan, even though I don’t cook much.  Recipes tend to scare me after a bit because my level of food know-how isn’t very high.  I can follow the directions, but I like knowing what the food is going to look like, and having terms explained.  That’s part of what I like about Giada diLaurentiis.  She’s friendly and knowledgeable, and understands that sometimes you don’t have a lot of time to make intensive meals during the week.  She lists her go-to pantry ingredients, but at my house, I think most of her recipes would be relegated to the weekends when we have more time.

Weeknights with Giada is Giada diLaurentiis’ latest cookbook.  As can be expected, the photos are beautiful and the food sounds (and looks) delicious.  I especially liked the tips (“Cook’s Note”) that is provided on most of the recipes.  She includes stories about some of the recipes – like how she substitutes wagon wheel pasta in one dish to make it more appealing to her 4-year-old daughter.  I never thought of that.

I haven’t tried out any of the recipes yet, but this will most likely be a cookbook I purchase in the next few months.  Her recipes don’t look heavy, and her desserts aren’t overly rich and sugary, which is exactly what I need as I work to lose a bunch of weight.

Thank you Giada for a delightful, beautiful, inspiring cookbook.  You make me want to try new things in the kitchen.

Amazon Product Page

I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

“The House at the End of Ladybug Lane” – A Lesson in Acceptance

Elise Primavera’s book The House at the End of Ladybug Lane is a delightful story of a young lady named Angelina who can’t help but get dirty and be messy.  Her parents are neat freaks, and a child doesn’t really fit their “neat” world.

One night, Angelina makes a wish, and a ladybug godmother appears.  However, there’s a problem…she’s slightly hard of hearing.  “I want a pet” becomes “I want a pest” and poof – there’s a pest in the house.  A pest that bakes the most delicious deserts, but a pest nonetheless.  On throughout the night Angelina tries to make herself understood, but the godmother just can’t get it right.

The results are quite astonishing, and the illustrations (by Valeria Docampo) are phenomenal.  My daughter liked picking out all of the little details (finding the ladybug, the pest, seeing what had happened, etc.).

The story boils down to how the expectations of the parents, while good-intentioned and well-meaning, may not fit the personality of the child.  The child may be doing their best to comply, but just can’t seem to get it right.  Rather than continually criticize the child, or be frustrated because they don’t meet the parents’ expectations, maybe the expectations should change to suit the child.

I received this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

“All the Pleasures of the Season”

This was a quick read.  Lady Miranda Archer has had her debut season.  She is trying to do what is right for her family and live up to their expectations.   Her family is no stranger to scandal and she just wanted to be the normal child.  So she picks a man who has been pursuing her all season that by all appearances would be a good match.  Her sister has been pushing for him and her family approves…except her brother.

However, there’s a problem.  Miranda doesn’t really like him.  She doesn’t know him all that well, and there’s just something about him that strikes her as “off”.  She would prefer to be marrying Gilbert, who is a second son and destined for the armed forces.  The problem is that she doesn’t think anyone in her family would support that match.

Miranda begins to understand what marriage to her selected fiance would mean and tries to get out of it.

There’s not a whole lot of depth to the characters, but I would be interested in reading more from this author.  I enjoyed the book and it was a great little read during all of the holiday chaos.

I was provided with this book from Edelweiss.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

Taking Time During Advent to Prepare

During Advent, not only are we called to be watchful, but we are called to be prepared.  We should be prepared to not only receive Christ, but to receive Him with Joy.

While waiting for the birth of Christ, we are asked to meditate on the gifts we are given.  There are the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of life and liberty, and the gift of those around us.

Too often, we are in a rush to get to Christmas.  Each year, the holiday decorations come out earlier and earlier.  Those same people who grumble about the stores having Christmas items up are rushing to put up their Christmas tree on Thanksgiving Day.  It’s not Christmas yet…it’s Advent – WAIT!

Unless we take the time to wait – to watch and prepare – to be appreciative for the great gifts we have been given, we won’t know the true meaning of Christmas.  The joy of Christ’s birth will be lost amid the rush, lost amid the day-to-day struggles we all face, and lost to time once again.

In my family, we wait to put up our tree until after my birthday in the beginning of December.  This year, as I have been listening to the homilies at church and really trying to refocus myself, I’ve come to realize that to my girls, Christmas isn’t so much about Christ.  That makes me sad, but when I think about it, Christmas wasn’t about Christ when I was growing up either.  Christmas was about family and gifts.  I think I’d like to make a change in how my family looks at Christmas.  I don’t want my girls to be so focused on Santa and the gifts he brings that they miss the true meaning of the season.  I want them to think about the gifts they have been given, and the gift of Christ.  I know it will be difficult – there’s so much focused on the commercialization and they are only 4 and 7, but I think it’s important for them to understand. While they are joyous about the season, it’s for the Santa aspect, not the gift of Christ.

Are you taking the time to prepare to receive Christ with joy?

“A Marriage Carol” Made Me Think About What Could Be…

I just finished A Marriage Carol by Chris Fabry and Gary Chapman.  It was an extremely quick read, but one that pulled me in.  It’s the story of Marlee and Jacob who are traveling through a snow storm to their attorney’s office on Christmas Eve to sign their divorce papers.

It’s a bittersweet journey.  They were married on Christmas Eve a 20 years ago, and there was a snow storm that night as well.  Even though they are on their way to end their marriage, they are both thinking of that night 20 years ago.  The reader is able to see into the current state of their marriage, from Marlee’s point of view.

They are run off the road by a semi and they land in the snow in the ditch.  Marlee can’t find Jacob, so she goes for help.   Eventually she comes up to a house which is owned by an elderly couple.  We are told that his name is Jay and his wife is not well.  He invites Marlee in, gets her warm, and lets her talk.

I don’t want to give away the ending, but I really enjoyed this story.  I think that the play off A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a useful plot device.  I liked how real the characters seemed.  For me, it provides me a tool for when I am feeling frustrated; I can ask myself “What would happen if I make Decision A over Decision B?” or “What would happen if I allow the situation to fester?”

I would definitely recommend this book.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via the NetGalley system.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

My Pants are Going to Stage a Walk-out

A few weeks ago, I decided to put together a team for a local weight loss competition. I found 3 other people who are all motivated to lose weight. A few of us decided that during December, we weren’t really going to worry about watching what we eat, working out, etc. We were just going to live and eat what we wanted. It’s not like I am going on an eating binge and eating all of my favorite foods that I know I won’t be able to eat once the competition starts, but I kind of am.

I haven’t been too worried about my health. Sure, my family has a history of heart disease, blood pressure issues, strokes, heart attacks, and cancer. (Ok, so that list sounds REALLY BAD.) But I wasn’t going to let myself stress over it – December is stressful enough.

But here’s the thing. As I go on my “farewell tour” of my favorite foods and restaurants, I have begun to realize that they don’t all taste as good as I want them to. I know this is a good thing, but I guess I wasn’t expecting it. It’s like I can hear my body say “Enough is ENOUGH!….Fix us already!!” (Ok, and I also hear my pants saying that they can’t take it anymore….one of these days, they are going to stage a walk-out and I will be stuck wearing track pants to work.)

So on January 3, I start a new journey. One I have tried before. One I have failed before. What will be different this time? Me. It comes down to me. It doesn’t matter that my husband is super supportive. It doesn’t matter that I will be cheering my other team members on (because I will). It matters that I want to do it. That I am tired of being out of breath. That I am tired of not fitting into clothes. That I am tired of seeing large numbers on the tags of my clothes. That I am tired of not wearing the clothes I think are cute because they don’t look right on me.

By the time I go to Tennessee in May, I want to have run a 5K and be signed up for another. I want to be in a smaller size of clothes. I want to crave healthy food, not crap. I want to know that I can eat things I like (popcorn, chocolate, and Pepsi – I’m talking to you!) in moderation and without feeling guilty about it later. I want my sister-in-law and her family to ask my husband when he got a new wife. I want my daughters to be proud of me.

I want to live. I want to be me.