Finding Joy – In a cup of coffee

In the words of Pastor Rick Warren, “Contentment is not laziness, complacency, apathy, or fatalism. Contentment does not mean you are not making progress, or you do not have goals. It means you are happy with what you have right now.”

“It is better to have only a less with peace of mind, than being busy all the time with both hands, trying to catch the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:6

If only

When I was younger climbing the rungs of my career and as a mother of young sons trying to catch my breath, I wish I had heard these words then and they become more powerful for me to heed now in my empty nest. Turning back time is impossible but living in the present can slow it down.

Which brings me to today, the biggest day of the year for retailers and shoppers – Black Friday. This isn’t a day I usually go out to the local shops and mall, however, my son is home from college and has the day off of work. He wants to go shopping. A chance to spend time with my son, you bet!

Joy in a cup of coffee

Around the world and particularly in the United States, there is much discontent. It is difficult to find much joy no matter where one turns although many people mouth these words across social media to make kindness great again (myself included). Yet even today for this Black Friday after waiting in a long drive-thru lane to purchase a decaf coffee for my son, the vehicle in front of us paid for our order. My son and I look at each other in amazement as the drive-thru server with the biggest smile and the brightest blue eyes said it had been happening all day. So of course, we paid kindness forward or should I say backward.

It was the best gift I bought all day.

It was worth every penny of the $11.31 for one 16 oz. cup of decaf coffee to see the joy in the faces of the drive-thru server and my son.

Caffeinated thoughts

I had enough coffee before we had set out on our shopping expedition, still the Starbucks pay-it behind experience got me thinking in over-drive.

Why does it take a holiday for us to be kind to one another?

Is it reminder to ourselves that kindness can still bring joy to a stranger? That the gift of giving without any expectations is still possible, still worthy?

How can we learn to be content with acts of kindness rather than simply buying a gift out of obligation or because it is the latest, greatest, and most likely the most expensive material gift on the shelves today and we must have it?

How can we, as a nation learn to be content with what we have rather than be so concerned with those seeking fairness in asylum, equality, and opportunity to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Granted, we have our own set of problems with homelessness, gun and domestic violence, and under-insured people, but do we even bother helping our own as we check-out the latest X-Box or designer sneakers?

How do we accept others different than ourselves who are also American-born citizens as well as those born elsewhere?

How can we be kind to one another every day?

Paying kindness forward

Citizens of the United States have always rallied to help one another in crisis, whether here at home or abroad. Yet currently there are many Americans who are taking a nationalist approach to the global economy and national security to name just two topics. I contend it is easier to keep what made this country great – our ingenuity, our integrity, and yes, our kindness than to discard those qualities for own self-righteousness.

I am not what I own, whether it is in the material things I buy on Black Friday or what I am given because by the grace of God I live in the United States. Dreams and ambitions do not just reside in these things, but in what I do, in what I think, and where I live. They reside in each one of us who may look, believe, speak differently than I do or live beyond borders.

I pray that I can be content with what I have and allow my content to make progress toward healing the world with the goal of making it a better place for everyone. Not just in the holiday season but all  year long.

Find joy in making the world a better place

Heal the World lyrics by Michael Jackson

Heal the World Video

May we all find joy

Why not buy someone a cup of coffee today and discuss how kindness can be paid forward to heal the world? Then act upon it together. Kindness starts with you and me. It starts with acceptance and the desire to understand each other and not just in the drive-thru lane.

Peace,

The Blogging Owl

 

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved – The Blogging Owl – SL Prielipp-Falzone

2018 Book of the Year, In My Opinion

As I do practically every year, I read dozens of books. I usually read three books at any one given time from different genres that inform, inspire, motivate or purely for entertainment. The books I read typically are new authors or first editions of the established authors, but not necessarily. Sometimes, I do not become aware of a book that urges me to read it until perhaps years after its’ first publishing date.

The best book I read in 2018 was first published in 2010 and copyrighted again in 2016. What attracted me to this book was the book’s title and premise as it related to one of my three words to live by in 2018, the word, frugality.

After selling our tiny cottage in the lower peninsula of northwest Michigan, I realized (not for the first time because my husband is good at reminding me) that I am a pack rat. Everything is a memory to me, especially when the item reminds in some way of my children. I also tend to hang on to things I think I can reuse or re-purpose without ever finding the use or purpose. The cleaning out and moving experience with our cottage inspired me to the idea of minimalism. After unburdening of myself of so many things at the cottage, I found myself freer and lighter in mind, body, and spirit that I felt motivated to declutter our primary home in southeastern Michigan.

The Joy of Less Cover

After researching books on frugality and minimalism and reading many book reviews on the topics, my research led me to the book, “The Joy of Less – A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simply” by Francine Jay, Miss Minimalist. The book’s first copyright was in 2010 published by Anja Press, and then again in 2016 published by the First Chronicle Books LLC, San Francisco, CA.

The Joy of Less

The book discusses the philosophy of the minimalist lifestyle and achieving that lifestyle through the author’s STREAMLINE method – the effective techniques for achieving and maintaining a decluttered home. But this book is much more than then the book’s premise I just described. The author’s non-judgmental approach to thought-provoking questions to root out the reasons for the reader’s materialism and clutter was inspiring and motivating. I felt her kindness through her phrasing and ability to guide me through the process of “useful stuff, beautiful stuff, and emotional stuff,” as well as, her compartmentalizing action steps into “trash, treasure, and transfer.”

Life Lessons

From the author’s bio on the inside back cover, Francine Jay appears to be a very young woman, however, her book, The Joy of Less revealed to me that she is an old soul. Not only did she share a different way of looking at the material things I have collected but helped me understand why I have something in the first place, why I have held on to it, and helped me to decide whether keeping an item would enhance my life.

In Francine Jay’s words, “decide which objects enhance our lives and put only those things back into our space.”

But the lesson Francine Jay taught me best was written just before those words, words that would change the way I think not only with material objects, but how I must think in mind, body and spirit.

“Decluttering is infinitely easier when you think of it as deciding what to keep, rather than deciding what to throw away.”

That one sentence blew me away.

The minimalist lifestyle

Although I was devouring the book, The Joy of Less, I put the book down for a few days to take in what I just read. I went back and read my blog post, Three Words to Live by, and I realized I had not entirely lived those words in 2018. And that is why I must choose this book, The Joy of Less – Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simply for my personal choice for the book of the year in 2018.

“… sacred space not a storage space.”

I love this phrase from the author, Francine Jay. That concept must not only apply to my physical living space, but be applied to my mind, body and spirit space as well.

Applying minimalism to the mind, body and spirit

What am I storing?

Why am I storing it?

Is what I am storing enhancing my life?

What and who do I choose to keep in my life?

The author continued to endear herself to my heart not only in reading the rest of her book, but including the wonderful words from the Haiku poet, Basho who wrote after his house burned down that he had a better view of the moon.

A better view of the moon

As I reflect on my three words to live by in 2018 and moving forward into 2019, I have a better view of the moon after reading Francine Jay’s book, The Joy of Less. As she reminds the reader that this is a book to be kept out on the coffee table or desk as a reference guide. Achieving a minimalist lifestyle is an ongoing process even after the initial decluttering, and I would add, even in mind, body, and spirit. I think I found my new therapist in Francine Jay.

Hoot Rating

On a hoot scale of 1 to 5, The Joy of Less by author and Miss Minimalist, Francine Jay receives an enthusiastic 5 Hoots from The Blogging Owl!

Read more about author, Francine Jay and the minimalism on her website at http://www.missminimalist.com and on follow her on Twitter at @MissMinimalist.

1 to 5 Hoot Scale

Any Book Recommendations?

Give me a hoot by email: Hoot@TheBloggingOwl.com. I would love it if you would follow this blog and at The Blogging Owl on Facebook, as well as, on Twitter @TheBloggingOwl and Instagram.

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved

Finding Joy – The Message

Have you wondered, “How can I learn to get through to this person?”

Have you wondered, “Gee, I thought I knew this person, but I don’t think I do anymore.”

With the advent of social media in recent years with old friends and family reconnecting, have you wondered, “I don’t remember them this way back then.”

There is a whole lot of friending and un-friending going on these days and I have not been immune to it. In a world that is becoming more divisive and hostile, I have wondered, “How can anyone find joy in the messages these days?”

Concentrating on the message

Every person has a unique communication style, a way in which they interact and exchange information with others. Okay, so let’s look at the different communication styles.

There are four types of communicating styles.

1. Passive communicators often act indifferently. They yield to others, usually failing to express their own feelings and needs, allowing others to express themselves.

2. The aggressive communicator speaks in a loud and demanding voice, maintaining intense eye contact and dominating or controlling others by blaming, intimidating, criticizing, threatening or attacking them.

3. Passive-aggressive communicators mutter to themselves rather than confront a person or an issue. They have difficulty acknowledging their feelings, particularly anger using facial expressions that do not correlate with how they feel and even deny there is a problem.

4. Assertive communicators can express their own needs, desires, ideas and feelings, while also considering the needs of others. The assertive style is known to be the best communication style because it aims for both sides to win.

This is interesting because depending upon my mood, battle or if my bullshit meter has been activated, do I alter my communication style? Do I speak differently with my mother than with my husband? How about my co-worker versus my child? Do I communicate differently with a stranger than a friend? Does it depend on the topic? Are certain topics left off the table? Is that good or bad?

You see where I am going with this? No? Stay with me.

Let’s look at the different learning styles because our preferred learning style internally represents our experiences, the way we recall information, and even the words we choose.

There are seven types of learning styles.

1. Visual learners prefer pictures, images and spatial understanding.

2. Auditory learners prefer using sound and music.

3. Verbal learners prefer using words, both in speech and writing.

4. Physical learners prefer using the body, hands and the sense of touch.

5. Logical learners are mathematical. They prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.

6. Social learners prefer to learn in small groups or with other people.

7. Solitary learners prefer working alone in self-study.

I am primarily a visual learner, although verbal and logical learning is sometimes thrown in for good measure. So, how can I learn to become a better communicator? How can I become better at sharing my ideas, passions, views, and opinions, so I and the other person can each can be great in our own way without hurting or slamming one another in the process?

Are you listening? Yes? Maybe.

I believe to learn how to better communicate with one another, each of us needs to understand the types of listening styles.

There are seven types of listening styles.

1. Appreciative listening – listening for enjoyment.

2. Informative listening – gather information such as facts, directions, news, or instructions.

3. Critical listening – listening to examine and evaluate logic, truth, and value.

4. Empathetic listening – listening to another person’s feelings, or thoughts, with the ability to put oneself in the other’s shoes.

5. Precision listening – listening to single out one sound with exactness and clarity.

6. Discriminating listening – listening to distinguish all the sounds in one’s environment.

7. Social listening – listening just enough effort to give a response.

Oftentimes, we concentrate on the messenger rather than on the message.

In the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi there is a passage,
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;

To be understood as to understand is to first believe we are all human first and foremost. No other label necessary.

A few weeks ago, I watched the Netflix special, “Nanette” a stand-up comedy act written and performed by Australian comedian, Hannah Gadsby. Its original debut was in 2017 but I never heard of Hannah Gadsby or her special, “Nanette” before that evening. It is a work of social commentary, especially about LGBTQ issues and I have watched it several times since.

Hannah Gadsby had such a profound effect on me. Not because she identifies differently than I do, or that I have an issue with the LGBTQ community. What I found in her performance was the ability to connect on such a human level about dignity and acceptance. The look of terror, anger and sadness in her face as she described the ugly experiences in her life. That visual combined with her voice brought me to tears. I had childhood traumatic experiences, although different from hers, but just the same I saw my own face in hers. I just wanted to reach out and hug her. I hope to one day. To let her know the impact she has had on me to examine how I communicate, but more importantly how I listen. And to also to let her know she is loved just as God made her.

My message is in my control.

Today’s political landscape makes it more difficult, but not insurmountable to learn how to communicate and listen to others. It takes more than open eyes, ears and mind to effectively communicate and listen to others.

Yet the messages I hear may be surprising if I commit to learning to communicate and listen more attentively with my heart. If my prayer is the same as Saint Francis, then I can find joy in trying. And perhaps I may be understood too in the process.

Actions are the words of the heart.

Still the cautionary tale is in a person’s actions. Often, I need to silence myself and to the noise around me. Actions do speak louder than verbal words. And what makes it even more difficult is wading through those words and the actions to know the truth.

Each of us has a different communication, learning and listening style, as well as different life experiences. Yet, the one thing that is in my control is my message.

Have you heard yourself lately? How about the other person? I’m committed to learning to become better at it. You too?

Finding joy in today,

New web photo - Sheri

The Blogging Owl

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved – The Blogging Owl – SL Prielipp-Falzone