A guilty pleasure

One of my guilty pleasures it to read a good horoscope now and then.  Someone forwarded this one to me today.  Even though I'm not a Sagitarian, I think it's an awesome quote from Rob Brezny's Free Will on 1/28/10:
"Many of the significant problems in our lives are more about recognizing the obvious rather than discovering the mysterious or hidden. One of the classic ways we deceive and hide from ourselves is by refusing to recognize the obvious, and shrouding what is right before us in rationalization and false complexity. We often delay and deny necessary transformation by claiming that there is a mysterious answer hidden from us, when actually we know the answers but pretend that we don't."

The gift of music


I've been feeling very blue for the past several days.  I understand why, and I'm okay with it because grieving is a natural emotion that accompanies loss.  But after a few days of complete and total lethargy, I've decided it's time to do something with my pain, to honor it, to allow it to be, so that I can eventually move on.

Tonight I remembered something that I used to know... that music has an incredibly powerful calming effect.  Perhaps it's the beauty of creative expression.  Or maybe it's the heartfelt certainty that someone else has experienced similar emotions, and they are able to express them in ways that I cannot.  Whatever the reason, no matter how low I sometimes sink, music is always able to lift my spirits.

I took piano lessons for most of my childhood.  It wasn't until I was much older that my mother told me that as a teenager, she could always tell when I was sad or under stress.  Those were the times that she never had to remind me that I was supposed to practice at least an hour a day.  Not only did I get my requisite hour in without a fuss, but I apparently lost track of time, got lost in my music, and played for much longer.  I bought another piano a few years ago, but it's been sitting quietly in my living room.  Perhaps it's time to revisit that habit.

In the meantime, tonight I'm thankful for YouTube and all the P.J. DJs who post music and videos on line for the rest of us to listen to for free.  I've created a few playlists so that I'll have appropriate music available for whatever mood hits me.  Right now I'm working on one called "Weepfest" which has some of my favorite songs that are so beautiful, or so expressive in their lyrics, that they make me cry.  I know it may sound weird, but scientists have actually studied the physiological effects of crying and have found it to be beneficial.  To read more on this, click here, here, and here.  Now that I've had a good cry, I feel much better.

This prayer landed in my email box today.  I thought I'd share it here:
May today there be peace within.  May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.

A soulfully abundant statement of faith

The following Gathering Statement was posted in this past Sunday's bulletin at my church.  It is my statement  of faith for the New Year.
I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed.  I have Holy Spirit power.  The die has been castI've stepped over the line.  The decision has been made.  I am a disciple of His.  I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure.  I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, mundane talking, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals!
I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity.  I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded.  I now live by presence, lean by faith, love by patience, lift by prayer and labor by power.
My face is set, my goal is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my guide reliable, my mission clear.  I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed.
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won't give up, shut up, let up, or burn up till I've reached up, prayed up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ.  I am a discipline of Jesus.  I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops.  And when He comes, He'll have no problem recognizing me because I'll be standing on His promises, shouting his praise and doing His will.

My 6 favorite life hacks

One of the most important strategies for living a life of soulful abundance is learning to embrace the idea of simplicity. When our lives our simpler, we tend to have less stress, feel less overwhelmed, spend less money, accomplish more, and have more time to enjoy what's truly important to us.  I've spent the last few months searching for and experimenting with different tools that will help me simplify my life in significant ways without spending a lot of money to do so.

The following six tools made my list, and together, they provide a solution to just about every time-consuming, necessary but unpleasant, and/or stress-inducing task I have.  Even better, three of the six are FREE and the others cost less than $60 each.
  1. Google (Free):  Google's free e-mail software is great.  I was first attracted to the fact that I no longer have to worry about deleting e-mails because my mailbox is full.  But I quickly learned that opening an e-mail account full of thousands of useless and out-dated e-mails was yet another source of stress.  Google's label, archive, filter and search functions have helped me learn to manage my e-mail box quickly and efficiently. But Google's usefulness doesn't end there.  I use Google Docs as a no-cost web server of sorts, allowing me to access project files from both my desktop in my home office and my laptop from anywhere that I have internet access.  I'm using Google Sites to build project websites to collaborate with clients/customers and of course, Google's Blogger is a personal favorite site of mine.
  2. YNAB (You Need a Budget) ($59.99):  I've been using this awesome budgeting and financial planning software for two years now and it has totally transformed my relationship with money.  I went through two brief periods that I fell off the financial wagon (didn't keep my records updated) and I felt totally off-balance and out of control.  I no longer live from pay check to pay check, I can easily and painlessly keep my checkbook register balanced and I sleep better at night knowing that I control my finances, not the other way around. From planning for large recurring and special expenditures throughout the year to saving significant sums of money in a short period of time, this software has been a God-send.
  3. FreedomFiler (from $32.95):  With a full life and two home-based businesses, coupled with a life-long distaste for filing, I used to find myself drowning in papers.  In addition to spending unacceptable amounts of time looking for misplaced papers, forgetting about things I wanted to do because I couldn't find my reminders, and yes, even occasionally forgetting to pay bills that I had misplaced, I often found myself getting physically ill when I looked at all the clutter in my home office.  FreedomFiler has changed all that.  This simple-to-use filing system is unlike anything I've ever seen and has made figuring out what to keep and what to toss a snap.  Now every piece of paper that I choose to keep in my office has a place to call home.
  4. KeePass (FREE):  More and more of the websites I frequent require passwords.  At the same time the increasing incidence of online identity theft is making me think more carefully about the passwords I chose and about not using the same password for every site, which I used to do to make my life easier.  No more worries with KeePass.  This free little utility requires that I remember one password to open it, and then I can create an entry for each website which lists the URL, user ID and password for each.  I can cut and paste as needed, knowing that my passwords are secure and a few extra brain cells are available for more pressing matters.
  5. ExcelSquare ($11.25):  This is by far the best project planning tool I've ever used - and I've used several.  From managing my recent home purchase and renovation to developing an implementation plan to roll out my new business, this sophisticated but user-friendly Excel application is perfect for keeping me on track and on schedule.
  6. Vertex42's Printable Daily Planner (FREE):  I think I've tried virtually every planner/personal organizer system out there, which little long-term success.  The benefits of using a daily planner are immense, but the logistics of finding a system that is effective and user-friendly enough to use on a daily basis is more of a challenge.  I've tried software programs such as Outlook, hard-copy planners such as Day-Runner, At-A-Glance, and even the beautiful, but very expensive, Franklin Covey systems.  Vertex42 has created a very simple but complete one-page Excel template that has room for appointments/work schedule, daily task list, people to call, expenses, and important things to remember.  I downloaded it to my desktop, and print a month's worth of pages at a time (the template includes a perpetual calendar).  I keep the previous month, current month and next month pages in a small 3-ring binder and I use the blank back pages for extra notes as needed.  Sure, it takes a few minutes to print a month's worth of pages, but I have the functionality of a Franklin-Covey planner for the cost less than a ream of paper and ink it takes to print it.
I hope you'll find some of these tools useful.  If so, please let me know.  And, if you know of others, please post a comment.  I'm always open to trying new things.

Wishing you a simpler, prosperous and abundantly soulful New Year!