Saturday, October 29, 2016

There's Gotta Be a Way!

It’s true. Nature does not like a vacuum. Remember all that free time I was going to have in retirement? Yeah, well…

“The activities of any given day can be enough to exhaust most people. Activities can be addictive. We need to fill our days with activity, often crowding out everything else.” Fr. James Stephen Behrens, O.C.S.O, Living Faith, Silence and Solitude.

Father is right. My list of activities is a self-imposed insanity, but I have so much I want to do!

Several posts back, I mentioned the Twenty-Five Thousand Dollar Organizational Plan. Originally intended to improve productivity for businesses, it certainly works for personal things as well. The simple plan adds three priorities to the basic tasks of the day. After the first priority is completed, the second and third move up. Then another is added to the bottom. Even if only the first priority is completed every day, seven priority tasks will be finished by the end of the week.

But, I have far more than three things I want to get done besides my Have-To List, and I can’t run around trying to imitate the energizer bunny anymore. My old batteries don’t last as long as they used to. 


After some thought, I decided on several things. First, no all-day cleaning marathons. I do a little every day. That way I have both the time and the energy for things on my wish list. 

Second, there has to be an app for this! And, there is!

Two, actually. A few minutes on the Google App Store and I found exactly what I was looking for. 

The first is a shopping organizer. I know that sounds funny, but shopping with the Tortoise is both frustrating and fatiguing. He shops spontaneously - usually without a list, and the grocery store becomes a nightmare of walking back and forth from one end of the store to the other. Instead of finishing in a half hour like other folk, it can take us an hour, or two, for only a week’s worth of groceries.  ARRGGG! 

The Hare dances rings around the Tortoise thinking of all the things she could be doing at home.

This app has changed my shopping. It saves me tons of time in both compiling my list and at the store. It keeps a running inventory, which it sorts automatically to match the grocery aisles! I am sooo impressed! Check it out. It’s free! Smart Shopping List by Listonic
Next, I needed something for time management with reminder options that wasn’t really a calendar/scheduler. A fancy To Do List to keep track of all the things I want to do. I found To Do List by Splend Apps (SplenDO). 

I become so embroiled in a writing project or a painting session, I lose track of time and often forget what day I last did X, and when I need to do XX. This little app gives me all kinds of options with a voice reminder. If I schedule something for a set time, I hear, “You wanted to do XXX at this time.” I love it!

I don’t care if the Tortoise is laughing at me. His mind doesn’t wander off on a million trails like mine. Knowing something else is keeping track of my tasks, I can stay focused on the next scene in my book, or the next detail in the painting. I can read without watching the clock, or setting a timer. 

Besides that, I have a visual of everything I want to do, and can stop the insanity before it starts. I am far more productive and less stressed. Grin!

Father Behrens also reminded me it is necessary to keep a balance between activity and quiet solitude. I added a little reminder to stop and take a break every so often. It is so easy to forget how many hours I have sat at the computer or the easel. It is just as important to sit on the porch swing with my husband. Play with the puppy. Watch the sunrise and the sunset, pray, and meditate. A little organization has gone a long way in clearing the clutter in my mind. I am more focused and more productive. When I am relaxing, I am not running a list through my mind, stressing about what I might be forgetting, and reevaluating everything a dozen times. I can open my thoughts to higher things.

“Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God.” Luke 6:12.

Friday, October 21, 2016


 “We each carry a certain amount of pain from our very birth. If that pain is not healed and transformed, it actually increases as we grow older, and we transmit it to people around us. We can become violent in our attitudes, gestures, words, and actions. “ Richard Rohr from, The Inner Witness.

This statement makes sense, and it is the reason why it is so important to forgive those who hurt us, not so much for their benefit as for our own. After enduring seven years of abuse from my ex-husband, I often reacted with anger when I felt threatened, natural under the circumstances, but certainly not healthy.

Through numerous counseling sessions, I worked through the pain, the fear, and the anger. Then, my counselor dropped a bomb. Forgiving was the next step. I tried, struggling on my own until God showed me how in a vision. He transposed His face over my ex-husband. Immediately, my anger dissipated. I felt weightless and joyful. Colors seemed brighter, no longer tinged with the grey of depression or inflamed with anger. 

Forgiving didn’t mean forgetting, or staying in the abusive relationship, it meant not hating him, not holding the pain in my heart and projecting it onto others. 

Richard Rhor’s statement explains the trend in our society to be judgmental and hateful to anyone we disagree with. If we already carry pain inside, and life adds more, then we become overburdened and lash out.

We can’t fix others, but by healing our pain, altering our reactions to the violent attacks of others, not replying in kind, or nursing resentment, we can make a difference. The ripple effect would encapsulate our families, our workplaces, our communities and eventually spread out to cover the entire world. We would have the tools to practice the soft prophecy I wrote about in a previous post.

Gandhi proved none violence can make huge changes, if enough people practice it. But it is so hard to not reply with anger when attacked, especially if that attack is not justified. The angry comments on a social site, the rude driver, the ill-mannered woman in the checkout line, try our patience. Even though we may not openly react, we often seethe for hours, sometimes days after the event. It festers, limiting our tolerance in other situations. If we add in major crises and trauma, our tolerance collapses. 

If we follow the example in my vision, seeing God in everyone, perhaps we can be more compassionate. It would be a start. After all, Jesus initially called only twelve disciples, and through their faith, they changed the world.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Soft Prophecy

One look at social media tells a sad story. People spew hate, even going so far as to condemn family and good friends over a difference of opinion. These differences are mostly over politics and faith. These people often claim they are more tolerant than those they disagree with. What they really mean, they are tolerant of anyone who agrees with them. Disagree, and they crucify the dissenter while shouting tolerance. 

In sharp contrast, look at the impact Saint Francis and Mother Teresa had on our world. Saint Francis of Assisi is particularly known for his vow of poverty, his humility, his love for all of God’s creation, and of course his faith. I have heard stories of how he “spoke” the Gospel by good deeds rather than preaching. Sister Teresa also preferred compassion to preaching. No one can deny the influence of both these humble saints. Hundreds of lives were changed. 

Father Richard Rohr states, “Rather than criticize the evils of his time, St. Francis simply lived differently and let his lifestyle be his sermon.” This is so counter culture by our current standards. Many Christians feel it is their duty to reform the world not by kindness, or even living the faith as Jesus instructed, but by screaming the Gospel at anyone they feel lacking. What a shame. No wonder many cringe when they hear the word, “Christian.” 

Imagine the results if we followed Saint Francis’ example, and rather than judging and ranting at those we call sinners, we invoked the “soft prophecy” of kind words, deeds, and love for all of God’s creation. The word, Christian, would conjure up someone other than a mean-spirited, judgmental individual pounding others with a Bible.

Jesus told us to love God with all of our hearts and our neighbor as ourselves. He didn’t say go scream at them for their political opinion or any other differences. He said those without sin may cast the first stone. An old proverb reiterates you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, yet we still use hateful words. 

We cannot control anyone, except ourselves. We can however, be examples and inspirations to others. We can alleviate suffering with compassion, one poor soul at a time. We may not be able to go to the slums of India, or live in a cave in Italy, but we can treat our neighbors, our co-workers, family, acquaintances, and strangers, both on social media and in person, with compassion, instead of hatred. We can simplify our lives by not giving into frivolous indulgences and over the top consumerism. If we concentrated on the basics of food, clothing, and shelter, we would have more to give to others, have more peace of mind, more satisfaction, and less stress.