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The Day of the Night Before Christmas

December 24th, 2010


It’s the day of Christmas Eve


It’s the day of Christmas Eve. I wanted to wish everyone out there happy holidays, whichever one, or none if you’re so inclined, you celebrate.


I think part of what should be said comes from some song lyrics:


“May God bless and keep you always,

      May your wishes all come true.

May you always do for others,

      And let others do for you.” *


Being brought up Christian, I celebrate Christmas. But Christmas has changed since I was small. We now have overt commercialism, unbridled materialism, sagging morals and ethics, as well as political and economic corruption, to deal with.  It’s hard to see any light at the end of that long tunnel.


But no matter if you see Jesus Christ as: the son of God, an important prophet, or a wise teacher and good human being, remember he changed the world, history, and our fates – through peaceful means, not war. Whether or not you agree with his teachings, many have lasted to this day.  And, he was a radical in his time. He stood for peace in a time when armed Romans walked the streets. He taught acceptance when the ruling class wanted to keep the classes segregated. He preached material wealth wasn’t the be-all, end-all; we have a spirit too.


Try to take some time this season and figure out what you want in your life. Where you want: to go, to be (when you grow up), to have. Materialism isn’t everything; health, family, community exist without excess wealth. Happiness can come from the “little” things in your life. A child’s smile. A helping hand. A letter from a loved one. A look through a photo album.  


Celebrate the 3F’s this holiday season. Feasting, family and fun. (Those were the 3 F’s you thought of, right?) Savor and be grateful for what you have. Take steps to get those things you need or want. And stop once in a while and take in the grandeur around you. Happy holidays. Barbara


*from “Forever Young” song by Bob Dylan, sung by Joan Baez.


Simplicity is…Choices

December 20th, 2010



If you want to live a simple (or simpler) life, you have to make choices. You can’t go out for three or four sports a season; not if you want to do well in any of them. Choose one and stick with it, give it your all. You can’t take three or four classes if you’re working. You’ll run yourself ragged. Again, choose one, do your best. You’ll learn more and retain what you learn.



If you overdo or overload your system, you often come away with less not more. In one of the writing classes I took recently, one member said she was taking 5 other Internet classes. True you don’t get graded on them. But 6 classes at one time? All she probably had time to do was file each for later reading and study. And if she took several classes the next month, the ones she didn’t read will have more piled up on top of them and will soon be forgotten. A waste.


If you play more than one sport at a time, take part in more than one craft, or divide your time between multiple tasks, you can’t give your total attention to any of them. And that means you never give your best to anything. That’s bad.



If you focus on one thing at a time, your attention will improve, the task will go faster and easier, and the result will be better. This does not mean you can’t do all those things, just not all at the same time. Spread them out. Pick one sport a season. Learn one new craft at a time. Give things an order and you’ll look forward to something coming up.



Put the things you want done, want to learn, want out of the way, first; then go through them in order. That’s not to say the order may not change. After all, life happens, flow with it. (It’s much safer that way anyway.) Life is all about making choices, choose the ones you like.  



And remember, this year you want to set up goals, not resolutions. Goals that grow and change as you do. Goals that adapt to your situation. Goals that fit.  




KISS This New Year

December 20th, 2010


You know the acronym KISS (for Keep It Simple Silly)? My suggestion is to make a New Year’s goal (not resolution, more about this later), to simplify your life.


New Year‘s Day is a little over a week away. Promise yourself this will be your best year to date, and do something to make it so. Small incremental changes work best for those of us entering (or firmly entrenched in) the second half of our first century.   


Today people are too stressed, too harried, too tired, too overwhelmed, etc. You get the idea. So make this the year you start to simplify. Make simplicity a daily habit, a new way of life.


Why a goal?


Instead of a resolution, which you break once and forget about, make a New Year’s goal. A goal you evaluate the end of every week (or month). If you don’t make it one week, you try again the next. No recriminations, no hassles, no bad feelings. And another new start the next week. Another chance to shine.   


And, you can give the goal a range. For example, last year my goal was to exercise between 4 and 6 days each week. I only missed two weeks last year. But if something came up and I didn’t get to exercise 6 mornings – only 5 or 4, I didn’t feel bad, or guilty, I did better the next week. It’s a win – win situation.


So set some goals to simplify your life. You don’t have to do all of those listed below, heck, you don’t have to do any of them. Decide how and what you want to do to make your life easier, simpler, and more attractive to YOU. If like the tag line you’re over fifty, then you know how hectic life can be. It’s about time you made things easy for yourself.  


Simplify by

Cleaning or DE cluttering  


- Your house room by room (include the basement and attic if you have them). Pick a room a month and go through it and throw away things that: you don’t use, don’t fit, are broken, or have missing parts. Include furniture and appliances.  If you’re a pack-rat like me, this will be hard, but doable.


- Go through your clothes. Throw or give away things that: don’t fit, are long out of style, are too worn, or you’re saving because it has nice buttons. (You can snip the buttons off and save them.)


Improve your eating habits:

- Eat more naturally. Start eating natural rather than processed foods. Make multiple meals – a big pot or crockpot of stew, a pan of lasagna, a large casserole. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a pizza now and then, but eat more fruits and vegetables, lean meat, and whole grain products.


- Learn how to food shop effectively. Use coupons and shop the sales. Pick up more than you need of sale items and freeze the extras.  




-    Pick a range from 2 to 7 days a week. Either pick a time or several short periods during the day. Get up and move!

-    Alternate your routine do different exercises every other day.


Sleep and Rest

-    Get the recommended amount of sleep per night.

-    If you do a lot of physical labor, take short rests to break up long stretches. Don’t over extend yourself; you’ll feel it the next day.

So, how will you find time for all this? Especially if you’re not doing any of it now?


Cut out things providing little nourishment, exercise, or rest.

-    Cut down on television watching.

-    Cut down on video games, computer games, and other electronic toys. A little can go a long way.

-    Don’t just sit. If you’re waiting for someone or in a doctor’s office, bring a book, recording or make notes while you wait.


Don’t make drastic changes. Make moderation a buzz word. Little changes done over a period of time work as effectively as a major change which takes more time to become a habit. Remember, you’re trying to simplify your life, slow down and enjoy the day.


Remember, these are only suggestions. Only you can take an honest look at your life and decide what it needs to make it better.





June 14th, 2010

What I call RENS stands for R = rest, E = exercise, N = nutrition, and S = self-actualization. While I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of the R, E, and N parts, you may not be aware of what what I’m calling “Self-actualization”. I’m using this category to take into account, all the things you do to keep your mind busy. Mental games, crossword puzzles, writing and reading fit into this group. As do many other things. I hope you find my RENS method as bneficial as I have.