Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Clear Your Plate for 2012

After dinner, my husband turned to our 10 year-old daughter, who sat at his left elbow, and said, "Clear your plate and clear mine."

The child replied, "Yes, sir," and lifted her plate from the place-mat. She paused. Her brow furrowed and her nose crinkled. She looked at her father and asked, "Clear your plate, clear your mind? What?"

"Ooooh, I like that," I cooed.

"Clear your plate, clear mine," clarified my husband.

"Clear plate, clear mind," I repeated. "There's something to that. It's so true."

My beloved's brow furrowed. "We're talking about taking dishes off of the table," he firmly redirected.

Sweetly, our daughter, unscathed by the philosophical rumblings beneath the after dinner clean-up, said, "I'll yours next, Mama."

"Thank you," I said to her. Then to my soul mate, "I know exactly what we're talking about here."

It's time to get ready for 2012. Out with the old and in with the new. What's on your plate, or your entire table, that's holding you back from facing the new year with anticipation?

Clear it so you can start 2012 ready to accept its possibilities.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Southern Girl Always Says Her Thank Yous

The Tuck Your Skirt 2011 Blog Tour for the advancement of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run (which makes a very nice Christmas gift for all of the ladies on your list) was a wild success. It was thrilling and exhausting and exciting and now it's finished. Whew! I made it.

I could not have done it without the help of so many fabulous bloggers. Thank You! Please take a moment to visit some of them. Introduce yourself. Explore their sites. Make a few new friends. They'll make you laugh. They'll inspire you. They'll educate you. And many of them offer wonderful opportunities to win, win, win.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fearless Fridays

Coming in January to Southern Girls Living Fearlessly:

Fearless Fridays

Every Friday will feature a new product that a southern girl, especially a fearless southern girl, should try. You'll find out why the product is the perfect thing for southern girls to get, plus read reviews, enter to win giveaways, and get access to special coupon codes.

The Southern Girls Living Fearlessly FaceBook Page will host Fearless Fridays auctions of select products and services, too. Click on the link to Like Southern Girls Living Fearlessly on FaceBook so you won't miss out.

Do you have a product or service perfect for the southern girl, or, better yet, the fearless southern girl? Would you like to have it featured on an upcoming Fearless Friday? Email me for details.

Monday, November 14, 2011

More Than You Planned

We all have a grocery list for our lives; things we want to do, places we want to go, relationships we want to have, goals we desire to accomplish. Every day, we're filling our metaphorical shopping buggies from life's metaphorical shelves, tossing into our carts those things on our list while by-passing products we deemed too pricey, not good for us, or need for next time but not now.

My mother and my aunt, on a shopping jaunt for my widowed uncle, learned that sometimes, if you're open to it, the universe gives you more than you planned on your list:


The moral of the story is that sometimes we get very focused on what we think we need for ourselves, crossing off the items on our list:
graduate from college
get married
have a baby
have another baby
land the dream job
run a marathon
write a book
We fail to note all the rest that life has in store for us. We can have our buggy and another one, too, you know.

More Than You Planned

We all have a grocery list for our lives; things we want to do, places we want to go, relationships we want to have, goals we want to accomplish. Every day, we're filling our metaphorical shopping buggies from life's metaphorical shelves, tossing into our carts those things on our list while by-passing products we deem too pricey, unhealthy, or need next time but not now.

My mother and my aunt, on a shopping jaunt for my widowed uncle, learned that sometimes, if you're open to it, the universe gives you more than you planned on your list:


The moral of the story is that sometimes we get so focused on what we think we need for ourselves, crossing off the items on our list
graduate from college
get married
have a baby
have another baby
land the dream job
run a marathon
write a book
that we fail to note all the rest that life has in store for us. We can have our buggy and another one, too, you know.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Taking the Reins and Regaining My Reign

I had no sooner picked up that magazine, flipped open to the article and thought to myself, This is my best work ever. And this fabulous layout they did makes it all the better, than a neighbor from down the street popped in to say hi and that he'd seen the article. He took the opening to point out that of all the three thousand words of it what he noticed was that I misspelled the same word, twice.

Actually, it was, as he informed me, a confusion of homophones. I wrote the word reigns when I really meant reins. I missed it in my proofreading. My copy editor missed it in her proofreading. The magazine editor missed it in her proofreading. And now my swollen pride had been drained by a honed scalpel.

Once again, insecurity bubbled and roiled beneath the surface. I took it as proof that I am a fraud. All night I worried that by morning everyone would know that I am not a real writer, that I don't know what I'm doing. The scrutiny frustrated me. I thought, I should just give up this career. No real writer would make a glaring mistake like that.

But real writers do make mistakes. Eat, Pray, Love has an error or two in it. The House on First Street is riddled with them. Elizabeth Gilbert and Julia Reed, respectively, are still real writers, however, and their stories are no less engaging.

I suppose that's what it means to be fearless. Fearless has never meant "without flaws." Fearless means putting myself all out there (I was fearless when I wrote that magazine article. All of my skills with creative non-fiction were laid on the line. I put my heart into it.)  and accepting the increased risk of error. The other 2998 words of the article are not ruined because of two. My story is no less engaging.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Are You Beautiful?


Well, are you?

Does that question make you uncomfortable? Probably. It's awfully direct and it demands a clear Yes or No. There's no grey area or room for an alternate answer.

And as southern girls, we all know that if we say YES, then the devil has led us straight into the vanity trap. Our mamas have taught us the dual lesson of always looking our best (Lord help us if we leave the house with our hair wet) while never prizing personal appearance over our virtues. Pride, for heaven's sake, is a sin.

If we say NO, for goodness gracious, then we disappoint our mamas, too. We are lovely in their eyes and it breaks their hearts if we discount our gifts of good figure and calm complexion. Our mamas want us to believe in ourselves and appreciate ourselves.

Beauty is a double edged sword.

Did you know that, according to Dove Research: The Real Truth About Beauty Revisited, that only 4% of women consider themselves beautiful. To me that's a staggering statistic. One that reveals the sad state of our understanding of beauty.

What is "beautiful" to you? Is it a flawless face on a glossy magazine cover? Is it a thread-thin model on a fashion runway? Is it Sissy-Dell Mathias's perfect hair that never flops no matter the weather? If so, that's the devil getting after you again, because he knows most of us don't look anything like that. Our perceived deficiencies breed envy and down the devil's row we go again.

Are you beautiful? If you dare to define beauty differently, then you'll have a much easier time answering that question.

To me, beauty is self-confidence. Beauty is smiling through adversity. Beauty is finding fulfillment in the routine of daily life. Beauty encourages friends and helps strangers. Beauty takes care of herself. Beauty is kindness, compassion and combed hair. It's lipstick and lending a hand. Beauty appreciates her assets and knows that God made no mistake in creating her. A beautiful woman manages to be the whole package, always becoming the best "self" that she can.

Are you beautiful?

Today's Assignment: In your Book of Lists, define beauty. Write down what it is to you. Are you beautiful? If you still answer No, then list what you can do to get there.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tuck Self is the Rebel Belle

And she wants YOU to be a Rebel Belle, too.

Tuck Self at Rebel Belle is hosting the Tuck Your Skirt 2011 Blog Tour today with a very special treat. Tune in to the Tuck Talk radio program to listen to a recorded interview with moi. Tuck and I had a delightful chat. She is a model for fearless living.

As you've probably already guessed, a Rebel Belle is no ordinary southern lady. She's "A southern voice for bold self-expression." After enjoying the podcast, you really must take a peek under the Human Design tab. Then scoot to the Coaching tab and grab some inspiration for living your best life. I can promise you that Tuck at the Rebel Belle will help you have your own "rebel-ation." She can help you have a life that "feeds your soul."

Over the next few weeks. I'm visiting more blogs around the country, participating in Q&A, sharing excerpts from Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run, and giving folks a chance to listen to podcasts and watch videos about me and Tuck Your Skirt. Some bloggers will be hosting giveaways so you'll definitely want to stop by.

I hope to see you along the virtual book tour trail. Meet the blog tour hosts.

I'd love to visit your blog, too. Email me if you're interested or check here for more details.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fearless Southern Women - The Short List

A fearless southern woman is a lady who beguiles with a smile
and tells it like it is.

Rosa Parks - Civil rights hero
Dixie Carter - Actress
Henrietta Lacks - Mother of the HeLa cell
Rose O'Neal Greenhow - Confederate spy
Harper Lee - Author of To Kill A Mockingbird
Ma Rainey - Mother of the Blues
Oprah Winfrey - Duh!
Kate and Jean Gordon - Social reformers and suffragists

The list could go on and on and on. Who would you add to this list and why?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fearless Living Quiz

Do we love to take a quiz or what? I have marked up many a magazine finding out if I'm a Queen of Clutter, Diva of Design, Princess of Passion, Whale of a Wife, etc. etc.

 
Want to find out where you are on your journey to fearless living? You can take this quiz without searching for a pen. Follow the link (and answer truthfully):



I took the quiz. Here's a peek at my results:

Quiz Results

You answered YES to 7 of the questions:

Self-mastery is what you seek and it is present in your powerful stand in most areas of your life. Congratulations on your willing heart and open mind. They serve you well. It is now time to step up to the next level of personal refinement. . .

If you want to share, copy and paste the first paragraph of your results in the comments section. Or keep your results to yourself. Either way, get inspired to live your most fearless life.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Get Fresh

During graduate school, I worked part-time at the Council on Aging in Athens, GA as an ombudsman. It didn't pay well, but I liked the job, visiting nursing homes and personal care homes protecting patients' rights, educating the employees, and investigating complaints made to the State.

A woman named Sally held the full-time ombudsman position. She was considerably older than me, as I was in my mid-twenties and she in her late fifties. And a quirky bird she was, too. She drank hot tea at exactly 10a.m. every day. She ate egg salad for lunch, ritualistically. She began almost every sentence with, "Wellllllll." In essence, Sally was the most predictable, unchanging person I had ever met. She wasn't just set in her ways, she'd become stuck in them with super glue. Bending or budging were both out of the question.

On the one hand, I suppose, Sally knew what she liked and she saw no reason to add complication to a life that clicked like clockwork. Deviating from the minute-by-minute, behavior-by-behavior plan would require extra energy and effort.

BUT, on the other hand, Sally was afraid to drive in Atlanta, take an unfamiliar route, give anyone anything other than her well-rehearsed standard opinion, eat fish, drink milk, answer the phone if she wasn't expecting a call or go to bed after 10p.m. She was always sure she'd said the right thing. She was positive she wouldn't get lost. And for certain no prank callers or telemarketers would catch her off guard.

Her fear trapped her in a comfortable life of monotony.

It was a good lesson for me at a young impressionable age, having barely begun feeling like an adult. I was young enough and silly enough to make a personal vow that I would never forget or forgo the thrill of experiencing something new; of doing something for the very first time. Not like a relationship-jumper, always leaving each romance in search of another, or a serial job-hopper, flitting from one place of employment to another; it's decidedly not the same thing. Relationship jumping and job hopping are signs of insecurity and dissatisfaction. Those are people searching for something they're likely never going to find.

When I say "experience something new," I mean stepping outside of one's comfort zone:
  • Taking on a challenge, such as writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.
  • Starting a project, like building a picnic table for the back porch.
  • Taking up a new sport, perhaps kayaking.
  • Doing something that scares you, maybe riding a roller coaster.

Every day, do one thing new. If you decide you'll never do that thing again, at least you've gained the pulse-quickening sensation of getting fresh. Plus, you have an experience to add to your repertoire, another story to tell, a complexity added to your person, a broader scope of conversation topics. You'll be a more interesting and interested person.

The only way to lose is if you say "No" to the new.

What will you do new today?

Friday, October 7, 2011

100% Guilt Free Day

Southern mamas wield guilt like a rattler in a pentecostal tent meeting. Below the Mason-Dixon, guiltiness is next to Godliness. Not overt guiltiness, like in a crime, mind you, but the kind of guilt that crawls silently up your spine and tickles at the nape of your neck. Though we swat at it and shimmy and flick, we can never brush away the sensation of it being there. Naturally, we start to avoid situations that make us notice it.

We southern girls cohabitate with our guilt in the same way we live with our silver and our pearls and daily gossip juicier than anything TMZ can dish. Why, I feel guilty for even saying the G-word. And you probably feel so guilty for reading about it and agreeing (you feel like your mama already knows you did it) that you're gonna talk about me just to make yourself feel better.

Never fear. I declare TODAY a 100% GUILT FREE DAY. Let's celebrate! Today it's okay:

1. To hide the last four chocolate chip cookies from your family and eat them for lunch tomorrow. 2. To ask the sales clerk for a 20% discount on that antique picture frame that you know you're going to buy whether she gives you the discount or not. 3. To kindly decline the handful of birthday party invitations your children brought home from school because you don't want to spend another Saturday schlepping kids around town. The party police won't convict for not being "busy" enough. 4. To say a resounding NO to the very next thing someone asks you to do. 5. To iron only the front panels and collar of your blouse because you're going to wear a jacket over it. 6. To order a pizza and watch a movie with your family on a school night. 7. To skip the DAR meeting even though you responded that you would be there. 8. To throw out that rag of a t-shirt your husband keeps wearing to be "comfortable" on Sunday afternoons. 9. To tell your son his tennis shoes smell like cat spray. 10. To paint a room orange.

How do you want to celebrate your 100% Guilt Free Day? What would you add to this list? Today it's okay to . . .

Monday, October 3, 2011

13 Things Every Fearless Southern Girl Should Know

In honor of the month of Halloween, I've developed a list of 13 things every fearless southern girl should know about herself. Don't worry, though, this is a lucky list, one that will free you from ghouls and gobblins of worry and despair.

Every Fearless Southern Girl Should Know . . .
  1. A chili recipe that warms the heart and the tongue. Making comfort foods for the ones we love is how we show we care. Being able to whip up comfort foods quickly in a pinch is how we love ourselves.
  2. A go-to Halloween costume. It's great to get creative, but this year Halloween arrives on a Monday. Be like a Boy Scout and be prepared.
  3. A charity of her choosing. Give generously to a cause or two that reflects your priorities and passions, instead of handing out dimes to every charity that solicits you.
  4. When to end . . . a project, an adventure, a chore. My personal rule of thumb to stop when my interest/enthusiasm/excitement peaks, before I'm on the downhill slide to exhaustion or misery. What's your rule of thumb?
  5. What's really worth a splurge. Do you feel like impulse buying is taking over your shopping trips? Decide right now what is worth a splurge - a fabulous pair of shoes, a spontaneous adventure, a gourmet meal - and then you'll also know what isn't.
  6. The three things she can't live without in her kitchen, in her closet and in her man.
  7. How many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop.
  8. The words to Seven Bridges Road.
  9. The phone number of a woman who will encourage her, inspire her and keep her moving forward. We all need mentors.
  10. The phone number of a woman who will indulge her, sip wine with her, complain with her and offer a shoulder and a tissue when tears get involved. We all need a best friend.
  11. A local grocer that carries Palmetto jalapeno pimiento spread. Don't go to a party without it (but put it in your own pretty dish, of course).
  12. Her heritage. Who her people are. Where she came from. Her roots.
  13. How to exclaim, "Why, I look afright," at the moment in which it will make the most impact.
Know these 13 things about YOU and you will never question yourself.

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Southern Girls Living Fearlessly Survey


    A just-for-fun Zoomerang survey on living fearlessly.

    I look forward to reading your responses.

    

    Friday, September 23, 2011

    Brig. Gen. Marcia Anderson on Living Fearlessly -

    This is quoted directly from the CNN site. The title links back to CNN's original post. These are not my words. I am re-posting this here because Brig. Gen. Marcia Anderson knows what it means to live fearlessly:

    Top ranking black female officer on 'living fearlessly'by Brig. Gen. Marcia Anderson, Special to CNNAugust 17, 2011 1:00 p.m. EDT

    View video on YouTube: http://youtu.be/3I1oEdsN5OI
    CNN Red Chair: Brig. Gen. Marcia AndersonSTORY HIGHLIGHTS

    Brig. Gen. Marcia Anderson is the highest-ranking African-American female in the Army Reserve

    Anderson says going into the military was not part of her life plan

    Her father also served in the Army in the 1950s

    Anderson believes her success is about 'realizing your dreams'

    Editor's Note: Brig. Gen. Marcia Anderson is the highest-ranking African-American female officer in the Army Reserve. The CNN Red Chair Interview weekly franchise strives to look at people's past to see what made them who they are today. We also want to know their biggest pivotal and "aha" moments in their lives.

    (CNN) -- My decision to join the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) in college was not part of my life plan. I simply needed some science credits, and military science met the "science" requirement for liberal arts majors. It also looked a lot like gym class, which I was quite confident I could do without too much trouble. I am very glad that I was wrong about the whole thing!

    ROTC is about presenting you with challenges and testing you -- physically, mentally and emotionally. I jumped out of perfectly good airplanes, rappelled, solved problems and met some amazing people the 32 years I have served my country. I would not trade one minute of it!

    Yes, along the way, I encountered people who made snap judgments about me because I was shorter than them, a woman or an African-American. They decided I did not measure up, but I chose to ignore them and believe in myself. My family is full of people who are intelligent, resourceful, strong and stubborn -- traits I inherited and I am certain are the reason I have been able to succeed in life and to overcome people who put obstacles in my path.

    One of the most affirming moments in my life was the day I was promoted to brigadier general. The look of pride in my father's eyes is something I will never forget. If my mother had been alive, I know she would have had the same look.

    My father served in the Army Air Corps in the 1950s when he was denied the opportunities I have enjoyed. Men and women like him -- my mother, aunts, uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents -- suffered disappointments and indignities so that I could have choices and opportunities.

    So, this is NOT about me. It is about realizing their dreams. It is about opening doors for others. It is about living fearlessly every day.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Taking a Stand

    This is the first post in a long while. I've been out living fearlessly - that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

    I've also been lining up Blog Tour stops for Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run. (You can find out more details about that here.) And while out on the tour trail, I've met some interesting people, one of whom reminded me of an important part of living fearlessly: Taking a stand and refusing to waver.

    Now, I will say this, we southern girls always reserve the right to change our minds. That's so no one ever really knows what's going on up in our pretty little heads. But we are by no means limber reeds. We will not budge on our core beliefs.

    Jessica at This Blessed Life is a prime example. I sent her the following request:

    Dear Jessica,

    I'm a southern writer (native Georgian) taking my recently released book, Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run, on blog tour. It's a book of humorous, true stories about surviving (and even prevailing over) unavoidable embarrassing moments written with a twang and drawl. I am currently scheduling tour stops for October and November. Will you host a visit for me at This Blessed Life? Of course I supply content in the format of your choosing. May I send you more information about the Tuck Your Skirt 2011 Blog Tour? (You can read more here: http://lucybgoosey.blogspot.com/p/tuck-your-skirt-blog-tour-2011.html)

    Jessica promptly and politely responded, thus:

    Hi Lucy,

    Unfortunately, I don't think your book would be a good fit for me to review. Don't take it personally, but the word "panties" is one of my least-favorite words (I don't even like to say it out loud!), and it's something I've been very vocal about (in a joking manner but also serious). As crazy as it sounds, I just can't in good conscience review a book with that word in it since so many people close to me know I can't stand that word! It just wouldn't make sense for me. However, I wish you all the best!
    Sincerely,
    Jessica

    This is a woman after my own heart. This is someone we can respect and emulate. She isn't fearful of turning into a brick wall when her very ideals are threatened. But she maintains impeccable manners. I replied to her:

    Dear Jessica,

    Thanks for responding. Yours is the most interesting reply I have received. And I totally understand. If a girl takes a stand against something, she has to stick by it. I, for example, detest the word "pee" and any use of it. It sounds vulgar to me. So, nothing personal taken.

    I do not know how Jessica feels about the word "pee," as I have not heard back from her. But I have made up my mind that if not for our differences on "panties" she and I could be very good friends living the fearless life together.

    What's the one thing you take a stand on?

    Monday, July 25, 2011

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    Happy July 1st

    Today is the first day of the second half of the year. This is the time to take inventory. What were your goals when you started the year? Have you achieved them? What have you accomplished in the first six months? What half-year resolutions do you want to declare? Are you a better version of yourself today, July 1st, than you were January 1st?

    And the biggest question of all:

    Are you living fearlessly with grace and good manners?

    What will you do to live a more fearless life in the new half-year? Look at it like a second chance and live it for all it's worth!

    Monday, June 27, 2011

    Five Lines from My Work in Progress

    Here it has arrived, the Lovin' the Language Blogfest hosted by Jolene's Been Writing.

    The following are five lines from the introduction of Southern Girls Living Fearlessly: A Lady's Guide to an Unfettered Life of Grace and Charm (or something like that but shorter). We hem ourselves in with the shoulds and oughts of southern etiquette - of life as a modern woman - to the point that we don't know ourselves anymore. Southern Girls Living Fearlessly allows us to break free of the corset binds and be the true selves we are meant to be.

    It took a whole lot of life and natural consequences and self-exploration before I arrived at this stage of thinking, however. The five lines reveal me processing through my decision to live fearlessly:

    Besides, when I think about living fearlessly, it becomes painfully evident that I fear too many things to face. I fear drowning . . . in water, in dirty clothes, in closet clutter. I fear cancer. I fear slipping in the shower. I fear failure. I fear success. I fear growling dogs. I fear getting old. I fear dieing young. I fear disappointing my parents. Most of all, I fear that I will get lost in oblivion, somewhere between my Once-Upon-a-Time and my Happily-Ever-After.

    Okay, yes, that is more than five lines. I broke the one rule of Lovin' the Language Blogfest. But there you go. That's living fearlessly, isn't it? That's taking life by the petticoat and going with the potential.

    How will you live fearlessly today?

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Fear and Curiosity

    Replace Fear

    of the

    Unknown

    with

    Curiosity

    Fear keeps us from progress. Curiosity stimulates action and momentum.

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Lovin' the Language Blogfest

    Hey writer friends, this is a fantastic opportunity to showcase a piece of your work. It's a one day blogfest and sure to be a great way to network with other writers. And it's the perfect chance for readers to preview snippets of books in the pipeline.




    To join the blogfest, go here and add your link: http://jolenesbeenwriting.blogspot.com/.

    The best part is that there's only ONE rule: Post five lines from your work in progress (WIP).

    Don't have a WIP? Well then, this must be a sign that you need one. Post the first five lines of the book you'd like to write. Getting started is the hardest part.

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Your Opinion Counts

    My 10 year-old daughter has a friend who never answers in the affirmative. If I ask if she wants a cherry popsicle or a grape popsicle, she answers that either is fine. If I try to find out if she prefers to spit her watermelon seeds or remove them from the melon before eating it, she shrugs. If I inquire if she wants to spend the night at our house or would rather go home to hers, she says she doesn't care.

    I suspect that she actually does have an opinion about something. I also suspect that her mother has told her to mind her manners, say please and thank you, and behave agreeably, which is why she never lets on that she has an opinion. Southern women have nobly suffered like this for years.

    But I'm a hostess and I want my daughter's guest to have a lovely experience when she's with us. I want to make her feel welcome and comfortable. Without any indication of her likes and dislikes, however, that's a difficult task for even the best hostess.

    When I take a hard look at my own self, I see a lot of me in her. Though as I've grown older, I feel freer to express my opinion in appropriate ways and circumstances, as a child, adolescent and young adult I worked hard to never rock the boat. In the months before I was getting married, a lady from our church offered to have a luncheon in my honor. She asked me what foods I liked and what I might want her to serve. Being my polite southern self I told her, "Anything you prepare will be wonderful. Thank you so much for thinking of me," which stranded her cooking up the menu all on her own.

    Which left me cutting beats into tiny slivers so I could choke them down. I spent fifteen minutes sliding green aspic surreptitiously around my plate, hoping some of the gelatinous substance would melt away so I wouldn't have to put all of it in my mouth. Therefore, I tell you, my response when asked for my opinion may have been polite, but it sure wasn't prudent. I suffered nobly.

    While there are some southern women who throw their opinions around loud and proud, like Greeks throw dishes, whether asked for their thoughts or not - we call that common, by the way - there are other more refined ladies, like ourselves, who would just die. How many times have I, as a guest in someone else's home and, when asked if I would like the fried chicken or the baked chicken, responded that either would do. I really want the fried chicken, but I don't want to insult her baked chicken or take the last piece of fried chicken or ruin some image she has of me as a baked chicken eater or a thousand other ridiculous reasons for not answering affirmatively one way or the other.

    Here's the truth; the real truth. If someone asks us for our opinion, she really wants to know what we think. Yes, it's entirely rude to push through life wielding our barbed, thoughtless comments and demands like a battle ax, but it's also rude to not give a definite answer when it is requested of us. The only thing that keeps us from the fried chicken is fear.

    Your opinion counts. My opinion counts. Don't let erroneous politeness get in the way of it.

    TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: You must first have an opinion to give one. To have an opinion, we've got to know ourselves: What we like; what we don't; what we value; what isn't important to us at all, etc. In your Book of Lists make a list of the foods you enjoy, your favorite vacation places, things you would never spend money on, items you would pay top dollar for, and any other self-defining lists you can conjure. It's a great start to having an opinion, when asked.

    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    Climb the Hills

    I've been training for a 5K race. Not because I love running. Quite the opposite. I detest the jogging motion. Living by two principles, (1) only run if someone chases me and (2) if I don't run then no one can chase me, I've fared very well over my lifetime, without the nuisance of running.

    But then my children and my husband started yammering on about how they thought I couldn't run, meaning I wasn't able, I didn't have the skill or the lung capacity for it. They didn't believe I was capable of running at all. So, in a moment of delirium I vowed to show them.

    My vow resulted in training for a 5K race. I don't think this is what people call having the last laugh.

    The hardest part of my training has been the hills. Did you know that 90% of the world can only be accessed by going up hill? This fact came as a revelation to me when I found myself on foot looking at what lay ahead and thinking I better go on home the way I came because I'll never master that monstrosity. I even said it out loud: "I'll die before I get to the top of that hill."


    Despite that nay saying, loudmouth voice, I dug down deep and discovered the smoldering ashes of determination. I discovered How to Climb a Hill:

    Shush the nagging voice telling you that you can't do it and that, even if you can, you don't have to.

    Quit looking at the top of the hill or the long incline leading there. Seeing how far you have to go will overwhelm you.

    Quit thinking about all the hills waiting beyond this one. There will always be a next hill to climb. It's best to focus on the one at hand.

    Make getting to the top your singular goal.

    Relax your shoulders, your arms, your jaw.

    Put one foot forward and then the other foot, and so on, not stopping.

    Concentrate on each step, only one step at a time. Every step toward the goal is a success in and of itself. Celebrate each one.

    The process mesmerized me into forgetting about the size of the challenge I had taken on. It made what I thought was impossible for me completely doable. Before, I feared every incline in the road ahead. I would change my route to avoid upward runs. Nonetheless, another hill was usually right around the corner anyway. Try as I did, I could not escape these bumps in my road.

    Fear, however, was holding me back from what was waiting on the other side: confidence and accomplishment. Had I never summoned up the guts to get up and go I would have never experienced the thrill of running down the other side. And, oh, what a feeling that is!

    TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: What hill is holding you back? What hill are you avoiding because you think you can't climb it? How has this complicated your life and your routines? What's on the other side that you're missing out on because of fear? Today, start climbing that hill, one step at a time. You can do it!

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    Are You Rushing?

    On November 15, 2010 I took this picture of this yard filled with Christmas crap flung corner to corner. The homeowner, who caught me stopped in front of his house taking pictures, informed me that he isn't finished yet. I wanted ask him does he not have anything for which to be thankful? I wanted to tell him there's no book titled Skipping Thanksgiving.

    But I'm passive and he was proud and a confrontation over out-of-season decorations really wouldn't have done either of us any good. He probably wouldn't have said, "Oh, ma'am, you're right. We haven't celebrated Thanksgiving yet. I didn't even consider how I'm cutting the glory of fall short. Let me go right now and pack up all this junk until after we eat turkey next week."

    More than likely, he would have told me to get my bah-humbug butt the hell off of his lawn.

    But truly, why the rush? Why the hurry to get to the next destination, the next holiday, the next big event, instead of allowing the season to unfold in its given time?

    We all do this. I'm as guilty as the next girl of rushing something; of wishing away days of my life because they're between me and some future event or goal, failing to recognize that the between is pretty darn important in its own right. The between is time I'll never get back.

    We rush our babies to walk so we don't have to carry them. We rush our weeks to pass so we can get to the weekends. We rush through books so we can find out what happens at the end.

    Rushing on to the next thing doesn't necessarily ensure I'll enjoy it anymore than if I wait for it to arrive at its scheduled moment. For example, I've noticed that people who rush the Christmas season, pack up their nativity scenes and throw Santa back in the garage on Christmas Day or the day after, never even giving the Wise Men a chance to arrive and discover baby Jesus in the manger. They don't know that the best days of Christmas come when all the pressure of presents and parties ends, when we can sit around and enjoy the tree and each other in the warm glow of Christmas lights.

    TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: What are you rushing? If it's a holiday, go take down those decorations and concentrate on what you have to be thankful for, like a second chance to put them up again. If it's something else, start today practicing patience. Resolve to enjoy the "between," and everything else, in its own time.

    Friday, April 29, 2011

    100 Things I Love - #s 96-100

    Every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years.


    For the month of April, I'm listing 100 Things I Love:

         96. University of Georgia football games.
         97. Uncommitted time.
         98. Spinach salad with hot bacon dressing.
         99. Being a southern girl.
    AND (drum roll please)
         100. Living fearlessly.

    Whew! I made it. Now to get started enjoying the things I love and crossing them off of my list.

    I challenge you to name 100 things. Record them in your Book of Lists. You'll gain a new appreciation for yourself and your niche. You'll also have a new challenge: To cross off each of those 100 places you want to visit or goals you want to accomplish or people you want to meet. I'll work on crossing off making time in each day for one of the things I love.

    Is there any better way to live fearlessly than to face up to a double challenge?

    What's the theme of your 100 Things list?

    Thursday, April 28, 2011

    100 Things I Love - #s 91-95

    Almost there.

    After struggling with my list around the midway point, now I think I could go on forever.

    Every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years.


    For the month of April, I'm listing 100 Things I Love:

         91. Gifts that are useful and stylish.
         92. Inspirational stories.
         93. Documentaries.
         94. The pungent aroma of a salt marsh.
         95. Singing along with the radio in my car.

    I challenge you to play along with this game. Take out your Book of Lists and record your 100 things. If you work along with me, by the end of the month, you'll have a new appreciation for yourself and your niche. You'll also have a new challenge: To cross off each of those 100 places you want to visit or goals you want to accomplish or people you want to meet. I'll work on crossing off making time in each day for one of the things I love.

    Is there any better way to live fearlessly than to face up to a double challenge?

    What's the theme of your 100 Things list?

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    100 Things I Love - #s 86-90

    Every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years.


    For the month of April, I'm listing 100 Things I Love:

         86. Road trips.
         87. Any sandwich made by someone else.
         88. My space heater.
         89. The song, "Seven Bridges Road."
         90. Words.

    I challenge you to play along with this game. Take out your Book of Lists and record your 100 things. If you work along with me, by the end of the month, you'll have a new appreciation for yourself and your niche. You'll also have a new challenge: To cross off each of those 100 places you want to visit or goals you want to accomplish or people you want to meet. I'll work on crossing off making time in each day for one of the things I love.

    Is there any better way to live fearlessly than to face up to a double challenge?

    What's the theme of your 100 Things list?

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    100 Things I Love - #s 81-85

    Every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years.


    For the month of April, I'm listing 100 Things I Love:

         81. American flags billowing.
         82. A cool, dark movie theater on a hot summer afternoon.
         83. Wrinkle resistant cotton clothes.
         84. Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
         85. The GPS on my Blackberry phone.

    I challenge you to play along with this game. Take out your Book of Lists and record your 100 things. If you work along with me, by the end of the month, you'll have a new appreciation for yourself and your niche. You'll also have a new challenge: To cross off each of those 100 places you want to visit or goals you want to accomplish or people you want to meet. I'll work on crossing off making time in each day for one of the things I love.

    Is there any better way to live fearlessly than to face up to a double challenge?

    What's the theme of your 100 Things list?

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    100 Things I Love - #s 76-80

    On the home stretch here, and with the weekend behind me, this task seems not so hard after all. I wonder if I could name 1000 things?

    Every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years.


    For the month of April, I'm listing 100 Things I Love:

         76. Alphabetizing things.
         77. Solving algebra problems.
         78. Creating systems for completing routine tasks.
         79. The last page of Sports Illustrated.
         80. Skipping.

    I challenge you to play along with this game. Take out your Book of Lists and record your 100 things. If you work along with me, by the end of the month, you'll have a new appreciation for yourself and your niche. You'll also have a new challenge: To cross off each of those 100 places you want to visit or goals you want to accomplish or people you want to meet. I'll work on crossing off making time in each day for one of the things I love.

    Is there any better way to live fearlessly than to face up to a double challenge?

    What's the theme of your 100 Things list?

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    100 Things I Love #s 71-75

    Every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years.

    This is getting harder. I'm really doing some deep self-examination in this process, thinking through every facet of my personality and what appeals to me.

    For the month of April, I'm listing 100 Things I Love:

         71. The smell of a church sanctuary.
         72. Movies that make me laugh through tears.
         73. A white egret standing in a grassy marsh.
         74. Reaching the world through the Internet.
         75. Paint-chip displays in hardware stores.

    I challenge you to play along with this game. Take out your Book of Lists and record your 100 things. If you work along with me, by the end of the month, you'll have a new appreciation for yourself and your niche. You'll also have a new challenge: To cross off each of those 100 places you want to visit or goals you want to accomplish or people you want to meet. I'll work on crossing off making time in each day for one of the things I love.

    Is there any better way to live fearlessly than to face up to a double challenge?

    What's the theme of your 100 Things list?

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    100 Things I Love - #s 66-70

    Every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years.

    For the month of April, I'm listing 100 Things I Love:
         66. Card games.
         67. A clever play on words.
         68. Wild wisteria.
         69. Leaves crunching underfoot.
         70. Gas logs.

    I challenge you to play along with this game. Take out your Book of Lists and record your 100 things. If you work along with me, by the end of the month, you'll have a new appreciation for yourself and your niche. You'll also have a new challenge: To cross off each of those 100 places you want to visit or goals you want to accomplish or people you want to meet. I'll work on crossing off making time in each day for one of the things I love.

    Is there any better way to live fearlessly than to face up to a double challenge?

    What's the theme of your 100 Things list?

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    100 Things I Love - #s 61-65

    Every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years.

    For the month of April, I'm listing 100 Things I Love:

         61. Playgrounds.
         62. Kittens.
         63. Learning something new.
         64. Teaching something new to someone else.
         65. Burning candles.

    I challenge you to play along with this game. Take out your Book of Lists and record your 100 things. If you work along with me, by the end of the month, you'll have a new appreciation for yourself and your niche. You'll also have a new challenge: To cross off each of those 100 places you want to visit or goals you want to accomplish or people you want to meet. I'll work on crossing off making time in each day for one of the things I love.

    Is there any better way to live fearlessly than to face up to a double challenge?

    What's the theme of your 100 Things list?

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    100 Things I Love - 3s 56-60

    Every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years.


    For the month of April, I'm listing 100 Things I Love:
         56. Colored pencils.
         57. A breeze rustling the trees.
         58. Screened porches.
         59. Strands of white lights.
         60. Attending dinner parties.

    I challenge you to play along with this game. Take out your Book of Lists and record your 100 things. If you work along with me, by the end of the month, you'll have a new appreciation for yourself and your niche. You'll also have a new challenge: To cross off each of those 100 places you want to visit or goals you want to accomplish or people you want to meet. I'll work on crossing off making time in each day for one of the things I love.

    Is there any better way to live fearlessly than to face up to a double challenge?

    What's the theme of your 100 Things list?

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    100 Things I Love - #s 51-55

    Passing the halfway mark . . .

    Every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years.


    For the month of April, I'm listing 100 Things I Love:

         51. Glossy magazines.
         52. Pedicures.
         53. Sunlight on the ocean.
         54. Motor boats.
         55. A cabin by a lake.

    I challenge you to play along with this game. Take out your Book of Lists and record your 100 things. If you work along with me, by the end of the month, you'll have a new appreciation for yourself and your niche. You'll also have a new challenge: To cross off each of those 100 places you want to visit or goals you want to accomplish or people you want to meet. I'll work on crossing off making time in each day for one of the things I love.

    Is there any better way to live fearlessly than to face up to a double challenge?

    What's the theme of your 100 Things list?

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    100 Things I Love - #s 46-50

    Half-way there . . .

    Every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years.


    For the month of April, I'm listing 100 Things I Love:

         46. Electric blankets.
         47. Flannel sheets.
         48. Fleece pajamas.
         49. Daylight Savings Time.
         50. Zip lines.

    I challenge you to play along with this game. Take out your Book of Lists and record your 100 things. If you work along with me, by the end of the month, you'll have a new appreciation for yourself and your niche. You'll also have a new challenge: To cross off each of those 100 places you want to visit or goals you want to accomplish or people you want to meet. I'll work on crossing off making time in each day for one of the things I love.

    Is there any better way to live fearlessly than to face up to a double challenge?

    What's the theme of your 100 Things list?

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    100 Things I Love - #s 41-45

    Every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years.


    For the month of April, I'm listing 100 Things I Love:

         41. Epiphanies.
         42. Going through a car wash.
         43. Thanksgiving.
         44. Halloween.
         45. Genuine laughter from the gut.

    I challenge you to play along with this game. Take out your Book of Lists and record your 100 things. If you work along with me, by the end of the month, you'll have a new appreciation for yourself and your niche. You'll also have a new challenge: To cross off each of those 100 places you want to visit or goals you want to accomplish or people you want to meet. I'll work on crossing off making time in each day for one of the things I love.

    Is there any better way to live fearlessly than to face up to a double challenge?

    What's the theme of your 100 Things list?

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    100 Things I Love - #s 36-40

    Every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years.


    For the month of April, I'm listing 100 Things I Love:

         36. Crushed ice.
         37. Tap water.
         38. Beating the budgeted amount on my electric bill.
         39. Scarves.
         40. Fireworks.

    I challenge you to play along with this game. Take out your Book of Lists and record your 100 things. If you work along with me, by the end of the month, you'll have a new appreciation for yourself and your niche. You'll also have a new challenge: To cross off each of those 100 places you want to visit or goals you want to accomplish or people you want to meet. I'll work on crossing off making time in each day for one of the things I love.

    Is there any better way to live fearlessly than to face up to a double challenge?

    What's the theme of your 100 Things list?

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    100 Things I Love - #s 31-35

    Every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years.


    For the month of April, I'm listing 100 Things I Love:

         31. Smoke bombs.
         32. High church.
         33. Reading in the tub.
         34. Paper, all kinds.
         35. A good pen.

    I challenge you to play along with this game. Take out your Book of Lists and record your 100 things. If you work along with me, by the end of the month, you'll have a new appreciation for yourself and your niche. You'll also have a new challenge: To cross off each of those 100 places you want to visit or goals you want to accomplish or people you want to meet. I'll work on crossing off making time in each day for one of the things I love.

    Is there any better way to live fearlessly than to face up to a double challenge?

    What's the theme of your 100 Things list?

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    100 Things I Love - #s 26-30

    Every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years.


    For the month of April, I'm listing 100 Things I Love:

         26. Leaves changing colors in autumn.
         27. Sweet iced tea.
         28. The 1st crisp day of fall.
         29. Wisteria in the trees along a country road.
         30. Ice-cold milk.

    I challenge you to play along with this game. Take out your Book of Lists and record your 100 things. If you work along with me, by the end of the month, you'll have a new appreciation for yourself and your niche. You'll also have a new challenge: To cross off each of those 100 places you want to visit or goals you want to accomplish or people you want to meet. I'll work on crossing off making time in each day for one of the things I love.

    Is there any better way to live fearlessly than to face up to a double challenge?

    What's the theme of your 100 Things list?

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    100 Things I Love - #s 21-25

    Every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years.

    For the month of April, I'm listing 100 Things I Love:

         21. The smell of turned over dirt.
         22. Picking the garden.
         23. A challenge.
         24. Writing lists.
         25. January 1st.

    I challenge you to play along with this game. Take out your Book of Lists and record your 100 things. If you work along with me, by the end of the month, you'll have a new appreciation for yourself and your niche. You'll also have a new challenge: To cross off each of those 100 places you want to visit or goals you want to accomplish or people you want to meet. I'll work on crossing off making time in each day for one of the things I love.
    Is there any better way to live fearlessly than to face up to a double challenge?

    What's the theme of your 100 Things list?

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    100 Things I Love - #s 16-20

    Every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years.

    For the month of April, I'm listing 100 Things I Love:
         16. December 26th.
         17. Beer on a Friday night.
         18. Fire in the fire pit.
         19. Rocking on the front porch.
         20. The smell of freshly cut grass.

    I challenge you to play along with this game. Take out your Book of Lists and record your 100 things. If you work along with me, by the end of the month, you'll have a new appreciation for yourself and your niche. You'll also have a new challenge: To cross off each of those 100 places you want to visit or goals you want to accomplish or people you want to meet. I'll work on crossing off making time in each day for one of the things I love.

    Is there any better way to live fearlessly than to face up to a double challenge?

    What's the theme of your 100 Things list?

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    100 Things I Love - #s 11-15

    Every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years.

    For the month of April, I'm listing 100 Things I Love:

         11. Mile markers.
         12. Sushi.
         13. Strawberries.
         14. Wedge sandals.
         15. 3/4 length sleeves.

    I challenge you to play along with this game. Take out your Book of Lists and record your 100 things. If you work along with me, by the end of the month, you'll have a new appreciation for yourself and your niche. You'll also have a new challenge: To cross off each of those 100 places you want to visit or goals you want to accomplish or people you want to meet. I'll work on crossing off making time in each day for one of the things I love.


    Is there any better way to live fearlessly than to face up to a double challenge?

    What's the theme of your 100 Things list?

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    100 Things I Love - #s 6-10

    Every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years.

    For the month of April, I'm listing 100 Things I Love:
         6. The liturgical calendar.
         7. Talking over chirping crickets.
         8. Catching fireflies at dusk.
         9. Sun on my face.
        10. Riding roller coasters.

    I challenge you to play along with this game. Take out your Book of Lists and record your 100 things. If you work along with me, by the end of the month, you'll have a new appreciation for yourself and your niche. You'll also have a new challenge: To cross off each of those 100 places you want to visit or goals you want to accomplish or people you want to meet. I'll work on crossing off making time in each day for one of the things I love.

    Is there any better way to live fearlessly than to face up to a double challenge?

    What's the theme of your 100 Things list?

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    MILLERWRITES: What Does God Love About.........Kristen Bell?

    MILLERWRITES: What Does God Love About.........Kristen Bell?

    100 Things I Love - #s 1-5

    As I blogged on Friday, every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years. Get the idea?

    The theme of my list is 100 things I Love. This is the first day of my challenge and it wasn't hard to name the first five:
         1. Puppy breath.
         2. Spring rain on a tin roof.
         3. Train whistles in the night.
         4. A child's chubby hands.
         5. Surprise Snow.

     Intrigued? Want to play along? Scroll down and read Friday's post. Think of a theme for your list of 1oo things. It could be anything - 100 recipes you want to try to cook, 100 things you want to learn, 100 plants you want to grow - as long as it's something worthwhile. Then get started in your Book of Lists.

    What's your 100 Things theme? What's on your list today?

    Friday, April 1, 2011

    100 Things

    Every southern girl, every girl at all, for that matter, should be able to name 100 things. Not just any 100 things, but 100 important things. Like 100 places she wants to visit, 100 people she admires, 100 things she wants to accomplish in the next ten years. Get the idea?

    This isn't an exercise to waste time or irritate the men in our lives. It's an exercise to make us more aware of who we are and how we think and what's important to us. It's an exercise to capitalize on our drive to write lists, and, more importantly, our motivation to cross things off of our lists.

    For the month of April, I am writing my first list of 100 Things. Every weekday, for the four full weeks in April, I'll add five additional items to my list. My 100 Things will be a list of 100 Things I Love. Because it's completely understood, and said everyday, that I love my husband and children and family, those will NOT be on my list. My family is so big I could get to fifty without thinking. Since this is a challenge to myself, let me for the record publish that I love everyone to whom I am related.

    I challenge you to play along with this game. Take out your Book of Lists and record your 100 things. If you work along with me, by the end of the month, you'll have a new appreciation for yourself and your niche. You'll also have a new challenge: To cross off each of those 100 places you want to visit or goals you want to accomplish or people you want to meet. I'll work on crossing off making time in each day for one of the things I love.

    Is there any better way to live fearlessly than to face up to a double challenge?

    What's the theme of your 100 Things list?

    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    The Wife of Job

    Suffering is a universal truth. No human lives without also suffering. It is a relative state of being, of course, measured by how far awry things have gone from previous circumstances. Suffering, some would argue, is necessary in order for us to know the highs of pure joy. One extreme cannot exist without the other.

    Nonetheless, we try to escape it, avoid it, ignore it. Yet, like running up gravel on a hillside, we inevitable fall back into a pit of despair. What do you do when you're in the depths?

    Are you the Wife of Job? Do you place blame? Do you loudly and bitterly complain? Do you put energy into dragging others down that gravel hillside? Do you try to convince those suffering alongside you to give in? If so, do any of these tactics ever relieve your suffering?

    The Company of Job, Inc., in its production of Job: A Postmodern Opera of Biblical Proportions, captures the futility and tragedy of Job's wife's response to the situation in which they find themselves. Listen as Pamela Bowman sings My Man's Got the Blues:



    Even in suffering, especially in the midst of suffering, we must choose to live fearlessly. God never promised to shield us from hard times. But He steadfastly accompanies us through them. We don't need to drag others down into the mire with us, if we acknowledge that we already have a rock to lean on when we need rest. To live fearlessly means to trust that we will survive our suffering, and not just survive, but come out on the other side of it burnished to our better selves.

    Today's Assignment: Go ahead, sing the blues. But don't get stuck there like a broken record. Finish up, because there's burnishing to be done. Face the lows so you can feel highs. Today, and every day until your suffering has passed, continue to smile, extend encouragement to at least one other person, in your Book of Lists write 3-5 things for which you are grateful.