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Weekly Wrap-Up – Feb. 28, 2015

So much to tell you about in this Weekly Wrap-up. Let’s get started:

  • HobbitCoverI met artist Sarah Shotts (awesome last name for a photographer, right?) at Arkansas Women Bloggers University last year. Her latest post came at just the right time. I had written something during my lunch break yesterday that I planned to publish last night, and after reading Embracing My Inner Samwise, I decided to rewrite my piece and be gentler on myself. Thank you, Sarah, for being a like-minded gal! Now, to move Bruce’s well-loved copy of The Hobbit to the top of the stack on my nightstand …

And congrats, Sarah, on the one-year anniversary of your blog!

Here’s a New York Times piece on Nimoy, which includes a short video in which he explains the origin of the Vulcan hand signal. Fascinating. :-)

We lost Mr. Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and we got him back in Part III: The Search for Spock. But this time the death is final.

Live long and prosper, Mr. Nimoy.

  • Spring training is about to start (dance of joy!), and I’ve updated my MLB.com At Bat app on the iPad and iPhone. So isn’t it nice to find this short piece on the “Vulcan changeup” as even baseball players remember and honor Mr. Nimoy.

(That reminds me: I still have a baseball book I need to review to fulfill a commitment.)

  • Another great loss this week: The Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, who was president of the University of Notre Dame while Bruce was a student there, died Thursday at age 97. Bruce remembered Fr. Ted as a champion of civil rights who marched with Dr. King. From the current ND president: “With his leadership, charisma and vision, he turned a relatively small Catholic college known for football into one of the nation’s great institutions for higher learning.” Read more of this remarkable man’s life here.
  • If you don’t know about the dress-color debate, you don’t do media, social or otherwise (I heard about it on a local radio station). I thought the whole thing was just a waste of time until Your Turn Challenge blogger Randall Hartman put it in perspective.
  • One of the things I want to do every day is take a risk, whether large or small. YTC mate Corey Bennett talks about risk, preparation and improv.
  • Snow has postponed this morning’s Penguin 10K and 5K races in Batesville, as well as the Polar Bear Plunge. Both events benefit Special Olympics. New time and date: 5 p.m. March 21.
  • But the Little Rock Marathon is still scheduled to go on tomorrow, and this morning’s 5k went off on dry ground. And, y’all, Bart Yasso is there!
  • On my friend and “Evernote evangelist” Rusty’s recommendation, I subscribed to productivity guru Michael Hyatt this week. You can download his FREE ebook by subscribing, too. (I’ll be reviewing the ebook once I finish it. I plan to review Evernote Essentials, as well, once I finish that ebook.)
  • I’m still reading the World War II story Unbroken. Louie and Phil have finally left the raft after 47 days on the Pacific; unfortunately their “rescuers” are the Japanese. Also still listening to The Boys on the Boat during treadmill time. Those rowing boys still haven’t made it to the 1936 Olympics, but they’re getting there, one race at a time.

Quote of the week:

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Weekly Wrap-up – Feb. 22, 2015

Friends, the weekend is about over, and I’m just sitting down to write the Weekly Wrap-up. I’m staying up past my bedtime just for you. :-)

I’m trying to read Evernote Essentials finally (I downloaded the ebook in October or November) – so I can make the best use of the awesome productivity tool known as Evernote. I have just scratched the surface.

I thought I was clipping some URLs from websites into Evernote for the Wrap-up, but, alas, I apparently missed a step and will have to rely on the gazillion tabs I still have open in Firefox, the flagged emails I saved in Outlook and my poor, feeble memory. (Uh-oh.)

So here is the week in review:

Unbroken_cover

AllGirlFillingStation_coverA few weeks ago I started reading Unbroken before I got sidetracked by some required reading. Now I’m back. When I heard about the movie, and that it was based on a Laura Hillenbrand book about Olympic miler Louie Zamperini, I thought it was going to be about his running career. Wrong. It’s mostly about his time in World War II. (I don’t want to spoil anything, but right now he and a buddy are in the middle of a 40-something-day stint in a rubber raft in the Pacific after their plane went down. And there are LOTS of sharks.)

As I was reading about WWII and the warplanes and the pilots and crew, it brought to mind a book I read last year for my monthly reading group. (Actually, I listened to the audio version during my long runs.) This wasn’t a novel I would have chosen, but I like Fannie Flagg so I gave it a whirl. The All Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion wasn’t at all what I expected. The all-girl part was a group of sisters who worked at their dad’s filling station in Wisconsin (“Hiya, pal!”). But after their brother went off to war, three of the four sisters became pilots – Women Airforce Service Pilots, to be exact – and that’s where it got interesting. It was fiction, but I felt that I learned a little bit about a segment of our nation’s history that I had never studied: the WASPS. I’ll let you read up on that for yourself, here.

I’m also still reading C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters for another discussion group. We meet at 6:30 a.m. every other Thursday at McDonald’s. I love these discussions! And then there are the two church-group books I’m reading. Those discussions have been great, too, and very thought provoking. Maybe I’ll talk about those two books later.

So that’s the book part. Here’s what I’ve been reading on the Internet:

  • My friend Alison, whose four kids are hurtling toward adulthood, has a soft spot for babies, and perhaps an even softer spot for struggling moms. Read her story about babies on a plane.

(Sidebar: In a bit of serendipity, I “introduced” Alison to Elissa via separate emails, as they are both expats living in Scotland at the present, and after looking at Alison’s blog Elissa told me they seem to know a few of the same people. I’m so eager to see where this goes!)

#7: You Become Free.

“At first we hug our boundaries in chains. We think ‘if we tell the girl we like her, she might not like me back.’ We think, ‘If I say I like this candidate, my friends might hate me.’ If I say X, everyone else might say Y. And so on. But more and more we start to feel where those boundaries are and we push them out. We push them further and further away from ourselves. Until finally they are so far away it’s as if they don’t exist at all. You don’t need money for that. Or a big house. Or a fancy degree or car. Every day, just push out those boundaries a little further. … Eventually, the boundaries are so far away we begin to feel the pleasures of true freedom.”

Push the boundaries. I’m workin’ on it.

  • Altucher wrote a book called “Choose Yourself.” I understand the sentiment: He’s not telling us to be selfish but to stick up for ourselves. That’s one way of looking at it. But Thomas McGreevey challenges us to “Love With Abandon.”

I’ll choose that.

What have you been reading lately? Spill the beans!

Follow me on Twitter: @oakleysuzyt

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What’s the big deal about Presidents Day?

Maybe I’m just becoming a curmudgeon (a distinction typically reserved for old men).

I’ve long decried the commercialism of Christmas. Then came Valentine’s Day (the ultimate made-up “holiday” – fortunately we do not get an extra day off work for it), Halloween lights, Easter eggstravaganzas and all manner of merchandise hawking.

There has long been a Presidents Day White Sale each year – get your towels and bed linens at a discount. (It was probably a Washington’s Day Sale a few years ago, but I don’t remember.) Typically, this hasn’t bothered me. It was just background noise.

But, for some reason, this year it really bothers me.

I just did a quick search for “presidents day history” – not on Google, but on a search engine that doesn’t archive and helpfully “remember” my searches – and the first result wasn’t a summary, or even a list, of how we can remember our nation’s chief executives, show respect for them or pray for them. It was this:

4 Days Only: Presidents’ Day Sale At Best Buy®, Fri–Mon. Shop Now!

The first result.

And in my inbox, where I receive various newsletters:

PRESIDENTIAL savings so big, I have to keep it a secret!

And …

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Which “Washington” approves? Is it the dead president? Do they mean our nation’s capital?

And then …

FINAL DAY! Save 25% Honoring Your Presidents, VIP!

I had already been pondering this post for about a week, but the ad for the the sale mentioned above, in my inbox from a retailer where I buy some of my running shoes, rubbed my patriotic hide raw …

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Especially when the PRESIDENTS you’re saving and “honoring” are DOLLARS, not PEOPLE.

… and I couldn’t fight the urge to rant, just a little. (Bruce and I even need new running shoes, but we’re not falling for this presidential deal.)

I realize that retail is tough, marketing and sales are tough, and each slice of the American pie is getting smaller all the time. We have an endless buffet at which to spend our consumer dollars. And I believe in capitalism. But this is a prime example of capitalism run amok.

However, in the interests of saving myself from curmudgeonhood, I’ve decided that full-blown rant isn’t what I want. (You’re welcome.)

I’d prefer to write a remembrance, a bit of U.S. history. (Disclaimer: I’m not a historian, just a U.S. citizen with an Internet connection and an interest in honoring our forebears. I’m choosing tidbits that are interesting and/or meaningful to me.)

  • For starters, even though we’ve come to know it as Presidents Day – the combining of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays (Feb. 22 and 12th, respectively) – the holiday is still officially Washington’s Birthday. “Contrary to popular belief, neither Congress nor the President has ever stipulated that the name of the holiday observed as Washington’s Birthday be changed to ‘President’s Day.’ ”
  • In 1879, Rutherford B. Hayes (1877–81) signed the Act to Relieve Certain Legal Disabilities of Women, which cleared the way for female attorneys to argue cases in any U.S. federal court. In 1880, Belva Lockwood became the first female lawyer to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. … Hayes was elected Ohio governor for the third time in 1875 on a platform focused on the procurement of voting rights for blacks and on economic plans calling for a strong gold-backed currency. … After leaving the White House, Hayes and his wife Lucy returned to their estate, Spiegel Grove, in Fremont, Ohio, and the former president devoted himself to educational issues and prison reform, among other humanitarian causes. (Source: History Channel)
  • A century later, Jimmy Carter (1977-81), my favorite former president, is also known for his humanitarian efforts, most of which have happened since he left office. He and his wife, Rosalynn, have been involved with Habitat for Humanity for more than 30 years. (I became aware of Habitat in 1988, when I was in college, and I volunteered with Habitat for several years.) The Carters have been major supporters of Habitat and have built many houses with the charity over the years. While I don’t always agree with President Carter, I admire him (Source: me). Previously, as governor of Georgia, “he publicly called for an end to segregation, increased the number of black officials in state government by 25 percent and promoted education and prison reform.” As president, “he suspended economic and military aid to Chile, El Salvador and Nicaragua in protest of those regimes’ human rights abuses. But Carter’s most notable foreign policy achievement was his successful mediation of the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt, leading to a historic peace treaty in which Israel withdrew from the Sinai and the two sides officially recognized each other’s governments” (Source: Bio). We won’t talk about the Panama Canal or the Iran hostage crisis.
  • I had never (to my recollection) heard the story of James A. Garfield’s 1881 assassination, less than four months after he took office. Read this fascinating account of his brilliant life – and his death – from CBS News’ “How doctors killed President Garfield.” An ironic detail:

On the scene at the train station: Cabinet member Robert Todd Lincoln. Present at his father’s death 16 years before, he would also witness the murder of McKinley 20 years later. “Of the four presidential assassinations, he was there for three of them … a pretty ghoulish distinction!”

  • Finally, our 44th president, Barack Obama (2009-present). While I disagree with much of is ideas and ideology, I don’t believe President Obama is the devil, and, if our nation is going to hell in a hand-basket, it’s not solely his fault, nor is it solely the fault of one political party (it’s the fault of all of us, individually and collectively). Today’s post isn’t about politics or finger-pointing; it’s about remembering and honoring our nation’s chief executives through the ages. No matter what political party you’re affiliated with – or if you’re anti-political – pray for President Obama and show respect for him; he has a tough job.

Today’s post is to help us all pause to remember that this day is not just a day off work (although I am grateful for that); it’s not just a day to buy new sheets and towels or $1 hot dogs. It’s a day to remember and honor. Let us do it together, as a nation.


Sidebar: I’ve found most of these histories by using ixquick and Google. Ixquick is somewhat of a bare-bones search engine: Just the facts, ma’am. Not a lot of fancy footwork. Google, on the other hand, tends to celebrate milestones, birthdays and historic events a little more flamboyantly – usually including a clever piece of art on its sparse homepage. Which makes it interesting that today Google’s home page graphic looks like it does on most regular days:

Google Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 10.29.04 AM

No dancing, prancing presidents, no cherry tree in place of the L, no stovepipe hat on the G. Nothing. Am I the only one who thinks that’s … unGoogly?

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It’s been fun reading up on some of our nation’s presidents, and I hope these brief glimpses have whet your appetite for more. Take a little time this “Presidents Day” to do some of your own presidential reading. And if you find a fun or interesting fact that you didn’t find here, share it with the rest of us!

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Weekly Wrap-up – Feb. 15, 2015

OscarWildeQuoteLots of good stuff in this week’s wrap-up. Four of the picks came to me by way of Your Turn Challenge mates, either directly (their own blog posts) or indirectly (links they shared). I hope you enjoy them as much as I do:

  • In Motorcade Window Shopping, Corey Bennett helped me imagine the isolation of being president of the United States.
  • Jim Borden hit the nail on the head (or should I say struck the One Pin?) yet brought back a painful memory for me when he talked about an awkward first date in high school: “He Likes to Talk About Bowling.” (He even shares a high school ID photo.) I think Jim and I are beginning to be friends simply because we’re both nerds. (You’ll have to read the comments on Jim’s post to see how his story relates to me.)
  • I found this rant by Kristen Lamb via Mona Karel of YTC. In many ways it sums up the profound sadness I feel about the phenomenon that is a certain book and movie that even some of my Christian sisters see nothing wrong with consuming. (I’m not stating the title here, because I don’t wish to give this piece of doodoo any more search-engine hits than it already must have. If you are breathing, you know the thing I’m talking about, anyway.) If you plan to view the movie or the book, read what Kristen has to say first. Maybe it will strike a nerve.
  • Some photographers who live near LAX get together monthly to Shoot the Moon. Don’t miss it.
  • I don’t love everything about Anne Lamott, as some do, but I do love her brutal honesty. (Reading her makes me want to be braver in my writing.) And because Elissa Joy Watts reminded me of Annie’s book on writing by linking to this post from Brain Pickings, her book Bird by Bird is up next on my list. (Right after I finish Stephen King’s On Writing.)
  • GOTR-logo-w-circles-298x300And you knew I had to slip something about running into the mix, didn’t you? This one came to me via the Charity Miles newsletter in my inbox. (I use the Charity Miles app, which earns dollars for your favorite charity when you walk, run or bike.) Read this story about a crazy running chick who set out to run seven half-marathons on seven continents in seven days (that’s 91.7 miles on her feet and thousands of miles in the air). As of this writing, Casey had raised nearly $10,000 for Girls on the Run, but weather had thrown a wrench into the team’s plans for race #7 (Antarctica). I’m not sure how it turned out, but I’m staying tuned for the next update. (In case you wonder what charity I support through Charity Miles, it’s the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.)
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What’s your sign?

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my “big thing.”

The past year, I’ve tried to focus on my purpose – how God wants me to spend the rest of the days He has ordained for me to be on this earth.

I’ve always been one to post quotes, scripture passages and photos that inspire me. I’m not talking about posting them online, although I do that on occasion. I mean in my physical surroundings. I have them on my bathroom mirror, on the walls of my cubicle at work, everywhere I can put something to remind me of important ideas, to inspire me to take action – to avoid being just another bloated sac of protoplasm that takes up space on planet earth and never contributes.

This morning’s blog post by Seth Godin got me to thinking that maybe it’s time to put all my “little things” together – all those signs, quotes, pics – into one “big thing.”

It was just a simple thought, stated near the end of the post, that got me:

“ … it’s worth taking a minute to look at the big sign hanging over your desk (you do have a big sign, right?) that says what you’re actually seeking to do, the change you’re working to make.”

I worked on writing a mission statement for a few months, and I still have the idea in my mind, but I’m not sure it’s quite right. I’ve let it alone lately. Too much pressure to make it sound right to everyone else. I know what I’m trying to do (my mission), but sometimes articulating it to myself is enough – at least for now.

MissionStatementCoveyQuoteWhat is the Big Thing for me? How do I put it into words, share it?

I’m working on it.

Stay tuned.

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Have you thought about your Big Thing, your purpose? Let’s start talking about it.

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Weekly Wrap-up – Feb. 7, 2015

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Words that came to mind as I read through this week’s posts.

I continue to be inspired by folks I’ve met online via the Your Turn Challenge.

A few of us (two dozen, maybe?) are regulars on the Facebook page that was set up during the challenge, and many of them continue to “ship” every day. Every single day. They have caught the bug!

I’ve been a member of another blogger group for a while, but most of those writers are Southern chicks (whom I love), and, while each one offers a fresh perspective not only on what it means to be a woman living in the South (or a Southern woman living elsewhere) but on what it means to be a part of the human race, I wasn’t expecting this new perspective. For these Southern women and their blogs I’m grateful; they bring me joy and inspiration.

But this new group – this “tribe” from the YT Challenge – was an unexpected source of joy and inspiration, too. These writers inspire me from all over the world, all sorts of backgrounds (writers, musicians, martial artists, glassblowers, teachers, scientists, marketing gurus, attorneys, Renaissance men, feminists, home-schoolers … and some of those even come in the same package!), every age and level of life experience. Just … gosh!

So, for the past couple of weeks, those guys are the ones I’ve been reading online. And until some of them get tired of posting every day (not all of us can keep it up indefinitely), I’ll be reading them and sharing some of their posts with you, along with other discoveries that make me laugh, smile, think or do.

Here’s the Weekly Wrap-up for Feb. 7, 2015.

At my monthly reading group this week, I learned three things of note:

  • LyonCollegeSpringEvents2015.JPGI wasn’t the only one who couldn’t get into the February book, Swimming by Nicola Keegan. In fact, only one of us read the entire book before Tuesday’s meeting. (I do plan to read it all. Eventually.)
  • Our March meeting will be a field trip! Southern novelist and Heasley Prize winner Tom Franklin will be in town on our usual meeting night (March 3), so we’re going to hear him at Lyon College. I might even take a super-early lunch break that day and attend the “public interview” with Franklin. And I definitely plan to try out his books (two are available at our county library), as I’d never heard of him until Tuesday. Here’s his Amazon page.

Bonus points if you can tell me where the phrase Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (the title of Franklin’s 2010 novel) came from. (If your mama is from the South, as mine is, you learned this as a child.)

  • Harper Lee’s first novel, “Go Set A Watchman” (the story that she rewrote that became the Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird, one of my top 3 favorites), will be released July 14. How in the heck did I miss that? Preorders have already reached No. 1 on Amazon, and Mockingbird orders had reached No. 1 as of Friday. According to The Wall Street Journal article, the news of this long-forgotten manuscript’s release “has captivated and shocked the literary world.” Well, yeah.

EricRovnerGraphicSpeaking of reading, I was happy to see YTC tribe member Eric’s admonition, Never Stop Reading. In the past year, through my book group and the great suggestions of an author friend, I’ve rediscovered the joys of fiction, although nonfiction continues to maintain its tight grasp on me. But whatever reading you do, keep doing it – and if you’re a parent, teach your kids the importance of reading (teach them to love it by reading to them when they’re young). Eric even offers a suggestion that takes away the excuse, “I don’t have time to read.”

ElissaJoyWattsGraphicI linked to Elissa’s blog last week, and after reading just a few posts, I can already tell I’ll be sharing her with you again. Not only does she express herself beautifully, she writes about things I like to read about (even things I didn’t know I was interested in!). Win-win! This time she asked me (and you, too, by proxy) if I want to get vulnerable, take a risk and join her in a new adventure. Read what she means by Who Wants to Get Naked? I said yes.

RandallHartmanGraphicRandy wants to inspire the over-50 crowd that it’s not too late to make a difference. As a 52-year-old (who still feels like a 26-year-old, except for those days when my body creaks like it’s 104), I applaud him for dedicating himself to proving that we’re still vital members of the human race and have wisdom, insights and the ability to act on our convictions. From Randy’s About page:

“My goal is to provide a place where we assemble a tribe that invades and conquers life after 50. This is more than surviving. This is about exploring, thriving and conquering.” YES!

LivingTheWhatIfLifeGraphicThe Incognito Blogger finds stories that inspire her (and us) to “Prepare, Go Hard and Don’t Quit.” In this post she asks, What are you willing to go through in order to reach your goals? The words in the graphic at the top of my post are largely the words that popped into my head when I read these stories, and especially when I viewed the short video of James Robertson. Be sure to watch that; it really is short. (And I have a feeling it would inspire Randy Hartman.)

I wish I could share every single good thing I’ve read this week, because there is much, much more (I said that last week, didn’t I?). There are just so many good things out there, if you know where to find them. The Weekly Wrap-up is my way of helping you find them. I hope you enjoy the list.

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What have you been reading?

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To Well With You – the coach is in

Suzy & Spice Business CardTo Well With You is official!

I don’t have a shingle or even an official office – my office is my Inbox, my cell phone or wherever you need to meet me – but the wellness coach, yours truly, is open for business.

Now that the Super Bowl is over and you can start recovering in earnest from the holiday hangover (I don’t mean booze but food, staying up too late, not focusing your health), you can talk to me about ways you might want your life to be different, better, more successful. I want to help you set and reach your goals.

You – the expert on YOU – are the driver of our choice of topics and where we go with them. I’ll help navigate, but you make all the decisions. You’re in charge, and I’m your guide.

We might talk about one or more of these areas:

  • Your physical fitness (exercise, better eating, more sleep).
  • A medical problem you may need to start addressing (with your doctor).
  • Your mental wellbeing.
  • Financial health.
  • A bad habit you want to break.
  • A good habit you want to establish.
  • Spiritual wellbeing.
  • Fill in the blank ______________.

As I’ve said in the past, I’m not a doctor, a nutritionist, a priest or your mother. If you need professional help, I’ll refer you. My job is to draw out your motivation to make positive changes. I will explain that in more depth in our initial consultation.

If you want to talk to me, call, text or email me. The info is in the graphic above.

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On Sunday naps and baby steps

It Is Well With My Soul - Version 2I interrupt this small-business launch to bring you … a day of rest.

I announced a month ago that I would launch my wellness-coaching business Feb. 1, not taking into account that Feb. 1 would be a Sunday.

My Sabbath. The Lord’s Day.

I used to treat Sundays casually, but now I’m more intentional about slowing down the merry-go-round that is life in the third millennium.

I take a nap every Sunday after church, and I take that nap seriously. Like it’s an appointment I can’t miss. I sometimes do miss it, but the reason has to be something really important. For instance, next Sunday afternoon I’ll travel out of town to sit with kinfolk and witness the ordination of my cousin as a deacon at his church. That’s important to me. God and family.

Wedding showers, baby showers, birthday parties on Sunday afternoons? I have to confess that my Sunday chill time is more important than those things – unless the event is relaxing for me, or it’s for family. (The two don’t always coincide!)

This stance may sound rigid, but as I age – as my full-time job takes a toll on me, body and soul – taking one day off a week to “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” is not just a spiritual pursuit but a practical one. I began needing the day off a few years ago, when I worked 60 hours a week at a job I hated. I was angry and tense the entire 11 months I worked there, and I’m convinced that if I had stayed I would be dead today. (Coincidentally or not, it was toward the end of my time there that I was diagnosed with a heart problem. On the plus side, it has made me grateful for every job I’ve had since.)

Sunday naps began as a matter of survival for me. Now they’re a matter of renewal and preparation for the week ahead. I’ve often said I can’t survive my workweek without My Sunday Nap.

Being the concrete-sequential, left-brained thinker that I am, I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be launching the wellness business on the first day of the month, as planned. (So perfect for bookkeeping, right?)

But Sabbath is a big deal to me.

So I decided to use it as a reminder to myself, and as my first admonition as a wellness coach, one day early:

If you are not on a conscious journey to wellness or wholeness (whatever you consider that to be), you should consider it. My goal is to spur everyone I come in contact with to be everything that God created him or her to be. Live up to your full potential. If you don’t have things in place that help you do that, work on putting them in place.

Start simple. “Baby steps,” I always say.

Simple means something like a Sunday nap. Or a Saturday nap. Or a Wednesday nap. Make your “Sabbath” whatever day works for your schedule. Just … slow down. Say no to some things. Say yes to yourself. Don’t worry that others will misunderstand; some will, but that’s OK. (Plenty of people don’t understand why I decline Sunday afternoon party invitations.)

Be mindful. Look for opportunities to be kind to yourself. To disconnect when you need to. To connect when you need to, but with people, not gadgets, or to-do lists, or the office. To recharge. (I understand that not everyone is like me. For me, crowds drain; for my husband, they energize.)

Begin figuring out what you need to do to be well and whole. Start your journey now.

And if you need me, I’m here.

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Weekly Wrap-up, the inaugural edition

I’m starting a new feature at Suzy & Spice. I read a lot, and I usually find an abundance of things I’m eager to share. I hope you find something you like each week. This week’s offering includes books, tech tips, writing lessons, Olympians and more.

Enjoy the first edition of Weekly Wrap-up, and please join in the fun by sharing your comments below.

I realized yesterday that I’m reading books concurrently in three formats:

  • The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (Audible.com version, narrated by the wonderful [and recently departed] Edward Hermann). It’s about the University of Washington’s 1936 Olympic rowing team. Fascinating, engrossing, inspiring. This book was recommended by an author friend of mine, Conrad Wesselhoeft, who might be just a little biased – he grew up in Seattle. He recommended it after I told him I was reading Unbroken, also about a 1936 Olympian (another excellent read).
  • Swimming by Nicola Keegan (Kindle version on my iPad). This is the February pick for my local book group. Ironic – it’s a novel about an Olympic swimmer (but I didn’t pick it). We meet Tuesday, and I’m way behind (I should be reading instead of writing, eh?). So far this book hasn’t grabbed me, although it begins with narration by an infant, so at least it’s not boring.
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King (hard copy checked out from the county library). Yes, the horror novelist is teaching me how to write good. Conrad recommended the audio version of this book, too, but my 30-day trial of Audible allows only one free book and since this one was in the library, I took it. This book is humorous, insightful and honest. (I used to devour Stephen King books, after being totally creeped out by my first one, The Shining, in 11th grade. I haven’t read one since Misery.)
  • The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (Kindle for iPad, $2.99). I have a battered old paperback copy of this, somewhere, but seem to have misplaced it or loaned it out. I’m involved in a weekly reading group that’s discussing the book, so I decided to buy the Kindle version. So very worth it, although I would say the same about all of Lewis’ books, as he’s my favorite author.
  • I’m not counting the books I’m reading for: small group and a class at church. Those books are just one chapter every week or two. (But they’re hard copies, and they’re both good. I’ll tell you about them someday.)

As regular readers here know, I recently completed a seven-day blogfest, the Your Turn Challenge (here are my 7 posts). Now there’s a Facebook page, lots of the 600 bloggers have continued “shipping” every day, and I’ve made some neat new friends. They inspire, encourage and inform me, including:

  • This podcast from Andy Stitt on SEO, Google Analytics and Google webmaster tools. (If you blog or have a website, you know.)
  • Tara Sophia Mohr eloquently expresses some things I knew deep inside but haven’t been able to express. Here, she tells us to Give It Words.
  • And, hey, look at this! Someone else has been inspired by an Olympic rower. (This one is still alive.) Read about Robin Thomas’ brush with greatness.
  • James Schmeling gives me a glimpse into a world I wasn’t aware of. In his world of “academic intrapreneurship,” his institution helps teach and train veterans and their families. This idea is intriguing, and something I want to know more about.
  • I have much more. Much more. But this is a lot already, so I’ll leave you to ponder the lesson in this delightful piece by Elissa Joy Watts on waiting until it’s right. (And, wouldn’t you know, she has written about a book that I’m now dying to read. But I’ll save that for later.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed the first edition of Weekly Wrap-up. Please tell me what parts of it you liked, or maybe didn’t like. Let’s swap stories.

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All is well

This is my final post (Day 7) for the Your Turn Challenge Blog. The challenge was to publish a blog post every day for a week. Here’s a link to all seven of my posts.

 

When the question came up on the Your Turn Challenge Facebook page, “What have you learned about yourself during this challenge?” I didn’t think I had learned much.

Then I realized I had learned at least one big thing.

I’ve been blogging for more than seven years, and it’s no secret that my faith is a huge part of who I am. I’m not afraid to throw out a scripture reference, talk about my blessings or say “Thank you, Jesus,” when the spirit moves. God has given me much, and I’m so grateful for who I am, how far I’ve come and who He continues to mold me into. It’s all because of His grace, mercy and sacrifice for me (and you).

My blog audience is small; I know every single one of my subscribers.

But as I prepare to launch a small business (wellness coaching) next week, I’ve pondered this: Should I cut out the “Jesus references” so that no one will feel excluded? I’m not so worried about offending people with my faith – I don’t pound people over the head with it, and if someone is offended by my rather tame references, I can’t help that. I don’t go out of my way to be offensive, but the Bible says, “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18, New International Version). As long as I’m being loving and respectful, working to keep others’ best interests at heart, I can’t help when they’re offended.

It’s just that I don’t want to drive people away with my faith talk – to make them feel as though they could never fit in here. Jesus was into including folks, not excluding.

One aspect of my coaching business will be evident through my blog. I’ll post educational and motivational materials in the hopes that others will be inspired. In fact, I’ve already been doing that for a few years, only informally. I’ve written several “if I can do it, you can” posts in the hopes that I might inspire people to take a chance on themselves, to do the hard work it takes to change.

As I decided on the name for the business, To Well With You (my husband came up with it), I first thought the name was too “out there” – too irreverent. It might offend certain people. Then I decided that I like it – no, I love it! – because it says I don’t take myself too seriously; you don’t have to be afraid to approach me. (Even Jesus freaks can have a sense of humor!)

I realize that picking a name can be a large part of a business’ success (or failure), and I certainly don’t want to offend. But as a small-business owner, I’ll have to get used to uncertainties, weigh the pros and cons and be OK with the decisions I make.

And one of those pro/con balancing acts involves the way I communicate.

Being a follower of Jesus Christ is what makes me Suzy Taylor Oakley. Without Him, who knows what my life would be like? (I think I would be more self-centered and not the least bit interested in helping people find “wellness.” And I certainly wouldn’t want to take the journey “to well” with them.)

Part of what will make me a good coach is remembering how far I’ve come in my own journey to wellness – to wholeness. One of my strengths (which I used to consider a weakness) is that I’m flawed, imperfect and in daily need of grace, and that I’m ever aware of my smallness, my need for Him.

My foibles and failures are what make me relatable, and I hope I can be transparent and vulnerable enough to remain human while assuring folks I have at least a little bit of valuable life experience and wisdom to help them move in a positive direction. (Another balancing act, no?)

Figuring out what each individual needs – that’s the challenge.

We’re all different, and not everyone will agree with me about God’s role in the world and in our individual lives.

But here’s what I’ve learned this week: I can’t seem to talk about things that are important to me – about things that make me who I am and that will make me a good coach – without talking about God.

I hope you agree, but it’s OK if you don’t.

To well with you.

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