Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Planning Ahead

Today I was having lunch with Helen, the office assistant who works with me. (By the way, Biaggi's in Cary has an amazing gluten free menu). We were talking about time management and how everyone of us has to find our own ways to manage time.

Last spring I went a little crazy with my time management. Every weekend I would plan almost every minute of the coming week. I was starting my doctoral work, dealing with health issues that I did not understand, had my full time ministry position and was branching out in new territories of ministry. While it worked for me at the time, it was exhausting. And, as anyone else in ministry knows, there is no way to completely predict what every week will look like.

There was one little trick I began in the spring that I have held onto, which is what I was sharing with Helen. As a woman, I know that part of the image I display to others is done with the clothes I wear and I believe it is important to be intentional about my image. While my image is not who I am, it helps to convey who I am to others.

So, on Sunday evenings I spend a little time planning out my clothes for the week. I'll try on clothes and accessories. I think about what activities I have throughout the week and plan my clothes accordingly. (For women, what you wear conveys a message before you open your mouth but sometimes it is just most important to be comfortable) Then I line them up in my closet, including the appropriate shoes and accessories. In the mornings, I rarely find myself with the conundrum of "having nothing to wear." Of course, I may change my mind but don't do that very often. It has been a huge time saver for me and helps me to feel confident throughout the week.

Think about your schedule. What are the things that are eating up your time? Is there any process you can make more efficient with a little planning?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Angry Birds

I have never been much for video games. I know I am dating myself with this, but when I was in elementary school, we got an atari. One of the old ones that were made to look like they were made out of wood paneling. While I enjoyed a good game of Qbert or Ms. Pacman, I did not play the games like kids do today.

However, I have recently been turned onto a game on my iphone called Angry Birds. I blame a fellow campus minister for my recent addiction. This week, if I've had a free moment, I am trying to get to the next level. The premise of this game is that these annoying green pig-like creatures stole eggs from some birds and now they are angry. Each level features the pigs in some contraption that you have to destroy by flinging the angry birds from a sling shot.

The key though is that these green pig-like creatures mock you the entire time. I think honestly that's what keeps me going. When I fail a level, they mock me with snorts and laughs. I find myself pushing the button to play the level again without even thinking.

In our lives, we all have green pig-like creatures in the form of people who are hoping we will fail. You know who they are. In my life, they come in many different forms. Those that do not completely trust me, those that work to undermine my leadership, those who are waiting for me to fail.

I love to surround myself with helpful, positive people. The ones who are encouraging me, believing that I can achieve anything. The reality is however, that without the "pigs" in my life, I would not achieve as much. The reality is that we all need the "pigs" of life to push us forward. While the reality of having people in your life that are secretly, or not so secretly, hoping you will fail can be daunting and even painful at times, these people keep us from getting complacent. They keep pushing us forward.

Surround yourself with people who love you, support you and believe you can reach for the stars.

When you come across the ones who are not positive, just imagine them as green pig-like creatures and allow their "snorts" and "laughs" to push you forward, achieving new levels of success.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pad Thai but Hold the Chicken...aka What is Gluten?

Two weeks ago I learned that the Pad Thai at Noodles and Company were gluten free. In the past week I have enjoyed them three times (please don't look up the calorie count on a serving, it's through the roof), each time with the chicken. Come to find out, the chicken, as is often the case, is not gluten free.

You may have no earthly idea what gluten is and I did not until a few months ago. I've always had an ailment...and upset my whole life. Growing up, it was always blamed on stress, or at least the stomach problems were. The other ailments could usually be attached to weight in some abstract way. But over the last few years, despite my best efforts to get healthier, I felt awful.

A year and a half ago, as part of my original "living fabulousness" movement, I started going to the gym regularly and trying to lose weight. I felt as though my body was fighting me! I'd be able to work out for a few days and then would just start feeling awful. I would be so tired and have awful headaches and didn't understand what was going on. The food cravings were intense! I could never get enough and would have such strong food cravings that I would have to eat whatever it was I wanted. (Kind of like the cravings I've been having for that pad thai over the last week) I would have days where I was so tired I had to take a nap and then would have trouble waking back up. My stomach was a mess! I was taking so many medications for my headaches and my stomach usually multiple times a day! I had days where my head was so fuzzy I could not focus on anything. I would have to work hard to have a serious conversation, much less write a paper or prepare a sermon. At points, I was taking at least one non-drowsy dramamine a day to stop dizziness. My mood was altered. I was grumpy and sarcastic. College students on our spring break mission trip who did not really know me were frightened by me. (My students just assumed something was going on) It really felt like to me that my hormones were out of control.

Easter night, my stomach got so bad that while on a visit to my sister in Arkansas, I had to visit the ER. I couldn't stop the pain and multiple times during the night I felt I was going to pass out because it was getting so bad. Thinking it was just my weight (losing 10 lbs would cure anything, right), and feeling like maybe my sugar was out of whack, I worked to stop eating foods with flour. Most of my low-fat food included flour, the food I'd been eating since trying to get healthy. On facebook one day, I wrote about making some gluten free cookies and a friend asked if I had celiacs.

As I looked up the symptoms for those with a wheat allergy, gluten allergy or gluten intolerance, I realized I had found the culprit for my bad health. I also suddenly realized how healthy I felt with just cutting way back on foods with flour. The more research I did, the more it became evident that I had to completely eliminate gluten from my diet, which is not easy. Gluten is not only in flour but is also common in salad dressings, marinades, flavor syrups used for coffee drinks and ice cream treats, soy sauce and the list goes on and on. I have visited an allergist and consulted with my primary care physician on these matters. I have tested negative for celiacs.

However, I have never felt better. I started running because my joints felt so wonderful and had so much more energy. I have been able to come off three allergy medications for my allergies and asthma. I'm working on weaning myself off my final medication for asthma, because miraculously, it's going away. I hardly ever get headaches anymore. My TMJ is so much better. My stomach and digestive system are still healing, but are better than they've been since my childhood.

I think back again over the past week and how I was effected by whatever marinade is used on that chicken at Noodles and Company and wonder how in the world I did it for so long. l did continue leading a successful ministry and start doctoral work. I did continue to have friends and try to keep going to the gym and eating healthy. Sometimes we just let awfulness creep up on us until we think it's normal. It can be our health, our relationships, our jobs but we eventually begin believing that this is just the way things are. However, we should want more for our lives. It is critical to pay attention to your surroundings, to your friends concern, to your own body to know when something needs to change. We cannot be the people God intended us to be unless we are willing to make the changes we need in our lives. We must pay attention to ourselves. What is your body trying to tell you?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Women Around the World

I have been in Japan for the last two weeks. It's been a great trip but I am ready to get home. Having a gluten intolerance, I have eaten a lot of rice while I have been here. Sometimes, that's all I've been able to eat for a meal. People have been so kind though. Last night, a kind waitress worked hard to find something I could eat on the menu. I wound up with a bowl of warm rice with some egg strips, green onions and raw tuna. It was actually really good.

The women, especially in our area of Kobe, are beautiful! They looked like they have walked out of a fashion magazine. I don't know how they manage to keep their style in this heat or manage to walk around the city in the ridiculously high heals they often wear. They exude fabulousness.....

We had the opportunity last week to visit with some girls from a women's university. Darling, fun girls! They chose questions they wanted to ask us and many were about the roles of women in our country. There is a culture change happening in Japan and these young women are caught in it. These beautiful stylish, strong confident women are expected to leave work immediately once they have children. There is nothing wrong with choosing to stop working once you have children, but for these women it is different. For one, it is not a choice. Secondly, the family system here is such that the man works and the woman's world begins to revolve around taking care of the children, the house and the husband. Sometimes she is even unaware of what the husband does at work, who he works with and often will not see him during the work week.

Last night we were in a different area, the city of Osaka. We were there to offer English lessons to those coming and going on the trains. In this area, along with others in Japan, it is common for a team of men that dress nicely in suits and have stylish hair, to approach women about working as "waitresses" for them. For some, it may very well be a legitimate waitressing position, but for others it is not. These men just approach women and follow them through the station. Some men took the tactic of getting in the women's faces and harassing them. Others would walk along flirting and flattering the women. Personally, it made me angry.

I do not understand how women are treated so violently and demeaningly around the world. It happens in our own culture in America. Here the police know it is happening and do nothing to stop these men, just like most places around the world. I remember walking through the streets of a Muslim neighborhood in Belgium seeing a women trying to cover her face because she had been beaten by her husband. Her sad eyes were surrounded by bruising. Part of his right as a husband is that he could hit her any time he wanted, any time she did not please him.

This is part of what makes me stand in awe of women. Through the difficulties, women find ways to stand strong. Find ways to make relationships that give life meaning. In difficult circumstances they find ways to raise children with love. And often, they do it with their own flair........that is fabulousness. Find a way to encourage a special woman in your life today. Find a way to work against injustice to women.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Changing It Up Already

So, I've changed the name of this blog already. I just didn't feel like my former title, "Charity's Musings" was appropriate. It was like an apology in the title. Like I was setting myself up for something unremarkable. It was like I was saying, "Well here are just some of my musings. They are really not that important. You can read them if you want, but you don't have to...." I've played around with the word "muse" for ideas for ministry because it has a double meaning for me. The first full phrase I ever said, the first words I put together as a toddler were, "muse me." I was walking down the hallway and one of my parents was in the way and I put my hand on their leg and said, "muse me." (of course, I meant "excuse me" if you hadn't gotten that) My first phrase was a polite little saying asking someone to move out of my way. Now, this is a good thing. Most parents, including mine, would be proud. However, for me I've lived a lot of my life that way. "Excuse me...." Living life too politely, not wanting to be too much. Not wanting to be in anyone's way or hating to ask for someone else to move out of mine.

A change started happening in me a few years ago. It was a culmination of many things, but really I just stopped apologizing for myself. About a year and a half ago, my pastor was preaching a sermon talking about those who had met Jesus after he was resurrected. He asked the question, "What would it look like for you to live like you've met the resurrected Jesus? How would people know that you've experienced the resurrection?"

Sitting in my pew, the word "fabulousness" popped into my head. I immediately tried to empty it out because that did not seem spiritual enough. However, I couldn't get away from it. In fact, as I grabbed my pen and church bulletin, I found myself writing, "To live resurrected means that I live into my own fabulousness and I help others to discover and live into their own fabulousness."

In the weeks to come, I realized that I could not get away from this statement. No matter how much I wanted to sound more like Mother Theresa, this was my calling. This is my statement for ministry and has become the mantra of my identity and calling.

For me fabulousness is not just about style and fashion. It is about owning who you are. It is about being confident about your gifts, not in an arrogant way but just being confident. It is knowing your gifts. It is about not spending your life apologizing for who you are or who you are not. It is about refusing to stand on the wall of life, but jumping in and participating. It is about not merely trying to blend in, hoping no one really notices you. It is about making the most of everything you are and not being afraid to shine.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Getting Started

So....where to begin. I've been toying with the idea of starting a blog for years now. What to write in the first blog always seems to paralyze me. What could be important enough to capture a reader's attention in just a few words? However, recently I have been thinking a lot about what I am passionate about. This blog will share the things I am passionate about with anyone who wants to read it. :)

A little about me...I am a campus minister, for those of you who do not know me. I am passionate about leadership development. I am passionate about coaching because I love walking with other people as they journey to discover who they are, where they are headed, and what it is going to take to get there. I like being a cheerleader for others but also providing guidance through the journey.

I am also working through a gluten intolerant issue and have been gluten-free for about three months now. I also love fashion and everything fabulous. I enjoy sociology; thinking about why people do what they do and how they interact with others. I say all of this because these too will appear in my blog. I feel like all things work together to help us on our journey.

My hope is that some of you will find laughter, some will find insight and, honestly, some will want to begin the journey of having me as your coach.

There....I think that's a pretty good start. Let the journey begin!